A film from Uruguay following three "dough-headed high school slackers" as they slouch their way through Montevideo. Despite a perfect excuse for a cameo by Naomi Watts--perhaps in a hall of mirrors--instead the filmmakers offer an argument between the boys as to whether stepping in dog shit is good or bad luck. Whitsell Auditorium
Alien vs. Predator See point/counterpoint debate this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
* Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
It has the most threadbare of plots, yet more out-loud laffs per capita than any other movie in recent memory. It's the mid-'70s, and Ron Burgundy (SNL's Will Ferrell) is San Diego's top local news anchorman who gets more ass than a toilet seat. While most comedies elicit three to five out-loud laughs from me at best, Anchorman provided a whopping 31. I know. I counted. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Avalon, Bagdad Theater, Evergreen Parkway, Laurelhurst, Mission Theater, St. Johns Pub, Valley Theater
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
Possibly the best title for a porn movie that's not attached to a porn movie. Set in the early '70s during China's cultural revolution, Balzac tells the tale of two young men sent to a rural mining village to be purged of their Western-themed education. Life sucks until the boys steal a supply of forbidden Western literature (including Balzac) and use it to woo chicks. Guild Theater
Jamie Foxx stars as Max, a cab driver in the hellish sprawl of Los Angeles. Max picks up Vincent (Tom Cruise), a hit man who needs to be shuttled around the city to make five messy appointments. As good as both Cruise and Foxx are, Collateral nonetheless fails, both as a thriller and as yet another entry into director Michael Mann's "brooding men" oeuvre. And Collateral is, indeed, just a thriller--the plot is pure pulp, and it should have been nurtured and groomed as such, rather than saddled with foreshadowing coyotes or lectures on genocide in Rwanda. Watching Collateral, you can see the straining--the pulled muscles and tendons--as Mann tries to force the film into something bigger than it should be. (Bradley Steinbacher) Regal Cinemas, etc.
* The Corporation
The citizens of the People's Republic of Portland love them some meaty documentaries, and this one will not disappoint. Employing the criteria of the World Health Organization and the psychiatrists' and psychologists' revered Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, the filmmakers present a checklist of psychopathological behavior, then apply those criteria to corporations. Backing up each claim with interviews from inside and outside the corporate world, the filmmakers proceed to check symptom after symptom off of their list. (Michael Svoboda) Cinema 21
Finally! A film that has Gerard Depardieu playing Danton and--at long last--shows him debating Robespierre (Wojciech Pszoniak) over matters of 1793 French public policy! How long have we waited? How long?! It's here! Finally! Danton is here! PSU Smith Memorial Union Rm 225
* Dr. Strangelove
Stanley Kubrick's 1964 doom 'n' gloom classic, about a crazy general, possible nuclear destruction, and Cold War drama. With George C. Scott and Peter Sellers. Shown outdoors on the roof of the Mallory Hotel.
* Fahrenheit 9/11
What, like you don't know already? Century Eastport 16, City Center 12, Evergreen Parkway, Fox Tower 10, Lloyd Mall, Movies on TV, Tigard Cinemas
* From the Basement Film Festival
A shorts compilation from the self-proclaimed "diabolical film innovators" of Vancouver, Washington. The films are produced by a group of recent graduates of the Vancouver School of Arts and Academics, and while the selections are hit and miss, the kids' geeky enthusiasm is pretty damned contagious. Besides, where else are you going to see a film that showcases teens getting hunted down by killer squirrels or a two-minute "dramatic retelling of Citizen Cane... action figure style"? (Erik Henriksen) Kiggins Theater
* Garden State See review this issue. Fox Tower 10
* Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle
Dumb, dumb, dumb and dumb... but funny. A movie for stoners about stoners, about two high guys who see a commercial for White Castle and set out on a quest to nab some sliders. You'll laugh in spite of your better self, and if you're bored and hot on a Tuesday night, smoke that nug 'o cheeb you've stashed in your underwear drawer and catch this one on the second-run circuit. (Michael Svoboda) Century Eastport 16, Lloyd Mall, Movies on TV, Sherwood 10
* Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear & the Selling of American Empire
A documentary which asserts that 9/11 was used by the Bush administration to push "a neo-conservative agenda to assert that American hegemony is untouchable." Parts of this film are remarkably solid, others are less so, and some sequences were apparently put together using iMovie, but the film retains an urgency and immediacy missing from most other documentaries. There's no shaking the fact that there's some hypocrisy here: for a documentary that condemns demonizing one's enemies and encouraging unjustified fear, it definitely uses its fair share of scare tactics, and it leans too heavily on the true but clichéd and oversimplified "Bush is a moron" worldview. But overall, the film's important in that it gives voice to words and time to images that nobody else in America yet has--not even that Moore guy. (Erik Henriksen) Clinton Street Theater
* A Home at the End of the World
Colin Farrell's bisexual Bobby character in Home at the End of the World is forgettable, while his supporting characters (played by Dallas Roberts and Robin Wright Penn) are vivid, fleshed out, and wonderful. Roberts plays Jonathan, a gay-ish twenty-something who grew up with Bobby. As youths, the two friends had a sexual relationship, and when Bobby comes to visit Jonathan years later in New York City, it becomes quickly evident the tension never really faded. But Jonathan also has a female roommate, Clare (Penn), who Bobby has tension with as well. Lickity split, a love triangle ensues, Clare is knocked up, and the threesome go buy a house out in the country. It's weird but it kind of works, thanks largely to the incredible poignancy and depth Penn and Roberts bring to their characters. Meanwhile, Farrell plays Bobby with an intense vapidity that is supposed to convey an aura of gentle mystery, but instead just makes him seem mildly retarded. (Justin Sanders) Fox Tower 10
A House on a Hill See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre
* I'll Sleep When I'm Dead
A character-driven thriller, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead follows a retired gangster who gets back in the game in order to unravel the circumstances behind his younger brother's brutal murder. Fox Tower 10
* Independent Filmmaker Lecture Series
The latest in a series of independent filmmaker lectures, featuring an open format screening, discussion, and a Q & A. This week: Trevor Fife, whose films Meridian Days and Steaming Weenies are about a cruise with his 82-year-old grandmother and a "hot dog-induced euphoria." (For clarity's sake, Steaming Weenies refers to the latter film.) Fifth Avenue Cinemas
Little Black Book
A young TV exec (Brittany Murphy) discovers the Palm Pilot of her boyfriend (Ron Livingston), then systematically and maliciously destroys his relationships with his ex-girlfriends. In doing so, of course, she also destroys her own relationship, culminating with a ton of crying. Hollywood, why is Brittany Murphy getting her own film vehicles? She's one of the most cloying onscreen personalities ever, and her acting is shit, shit, shit. (Michael Svoboda) Broadway Metroplex, Cinema 99, Regal Cinemas, etc.
The Manchurian Candidate
War sucks, dude. There's no Ricki Lake, never enough peanut butter, and your dick can get shot off. Even worse, the enemy might capture you and brainwash you into thinking that the unpopular coward in your platoon saved your life. This seems to be the case for Capt. Ben Marco (Denzel Washington). Having recommended Sgt. Raymond Shaw (Liev Schreiber) for a medal of honor because of his supposed heroics during the first Gulf War, Marco's nightmares about Shaw tell a different story. Determined to discover the truth, Marco also has a deadline: Shaw, now a congressman, is running in the upcoming Presidential election. Compared to John Frankenheimer's 1962 classic, this remake blows. Though gripping, the new film is utterly patronizing--but perhaps that's fitting, considering today's moviegoers probably don't even know what Manchuria is. (Will Gardner) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Maria Full of Grace
There are a lot of reasons to appreciate Maria Full of Grace, not the least of which are its subtly beautiful cinematography and its impeccable performances. Unfortunately, the film--which follows a 17 year-old Columbian girl, Maria (Catalina Sandino Moreno), as she decides to become a "mule," ingesting pellets full of heroin and smuggling them into the U.S. --doesn't really have much to say, other than being a mule really sucks. Profound, that. Writer/director Joshua Marston's flip-flopping characterization alienates the audience about halfway through, leaving only his simple, heavy-handed moral. (Erik Henriksen) Fox Tower 10
* Metallica: Some Kind of Monster
Metallica: Some Kind of Monster is like a dream come true--not only is it an exposé about the most important band in my life, it's also a poignant musing on the price of fame and fortune. For the most part, Some Kind of Monster shows an older, out of touch Metallica trying to work together to record their shitty St. Anger album. In the end, the film doesn't bring about any huge epiphanies other than "Wow, it must be hard to realize that you used to rule the world, but now you suck." That's enough to make this documentary a bizarre but utterly compelling watch, however--especially if you love the shit out of Metallica. (Katie Shimer) Cinemagic
* Open Water
Open Water is less of a horror movie than a tense and fascinatingly fatalistic philosophical treatise. With sharks. Susan and Daniel are your all too average 21st Century couple, so beleaguered by their high powered lives that they're unable to relax, even while vacationing in the Bahamas. Things perk up, however, when the two take a crowded scuba boat to the middle of the ocean--and due to a very unfortunate series of accidents, are left floating alone in the briny blue. Not helping matters are the sharks: Lots and lots of sharks who are continually bumping and nipping at the pair. The characters of Susan and Daniel are perfect representations of humanity itself, who are, philosophically speaking, tossed around in a dangerous universe, tortured by unseen demons, and finally come to the rather unhappy conclusion that they are undeniably alone. See what I mean by fatalistic? (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Pioneer Place Stadium 6
* Orlo Video Slam
The second heat in Orlo's annual video slam showcases local films having to do with the theme "The Campaign Trail." Local film geeks have been working on their four-minute opuses for a few months now, but feel free to run out and shoot one yourself (four-minute time limit strictly enforced!). See orlo.org for rules and regulations, and if you're not all that ambitious, just show up and watch. Orlo
Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism
See My, What a Busy Week! Clinton Street Theater
A 1941 tearjerker starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne, who play a couple who can't have children of their own and decide to adopt. Screened by the good folks at Cafe Nola, who are kind enough to offer a complimentary glass of wine before the screening. Cafe Nola
* Portland Indie Animation Festival 2004
Thursday night is a recap of last year's Indie Animation Fest at Holocene. Friday's events take place at Newspace and include "An Evening with Nathan Smithie and Robin Ator," who have worked on such films as The Meaty McMeat Show and the animated The Tick series. For info on Saturday night's events, see Destination Fun. Holocene, Newspace, Nocturnal, The Know
* The Princess Bride
Rob Reiner's greatest contribution to modern and ancient societies: A sharply written fairytale that bounces from one cliché to the next satirical take on revenge, true love, and dark forests inhabited by evil. Even if you've already heard the movie quoted an inconceivable number of times, it remains jammed pack with witty exchanges, fast-footed sword-fighting, and downright enjoyable stupidity. (Phil Busse) Laurelhurst
The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
Unacquainted with volume one of this rags-to-royalty saga, I entered the theater severely disadvantaged, with some crippling queries. For example: Where in world is the nebulously European nation of Genovia? (Judging from the accents at play, I'm imagining somewhere between Greece and Delaware--but don't quote me on that.) Additional confusions spoken aloud in my seat: "What the fuck are you doing in this movie, Heather Matarazzo?" "Is that you, Gimli?" And--most glaringly--"Why do I give a shit about the lives of teenage royalty?" Why indeed... why indeed. (Zac Pennington) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Did you know that smoking "the reefer" can turn you into a stone-cold killer? It can also get you committed to an insane asylum or--even worse--make you pound away at a piano while your friends convulse and hop in some sick, drug-induced imitation of dancing. Yes, "the reefer" is far, far more dangerous than it first appears, and according to this 1938 anti-"the reefer" propaganda film, it's the single most dastardly and life-ruining substance to ever threaten God's green earth with its cursed blight. In other words, go get stoned and watch it; you'll have a blast. (Erik Henriksen) Old Town Pizza
* Revenge of the Nerds
Nerds get revenge on jocks using nerd warfare and see a whole bunch of titty while they're doing it. And who needs titty more than a nerd? Fifth Avenue Cinemas
* Riding Giants
This fascinating exploration of the culture of big-wave surfing by the director of the skateboarding documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys is distinguished first by the quality of its footage. I have no idea how director Stacy Peralta and his crew managed to get on top of the water the way they do, but the actual surfing in this movie is heroic. Your heart rises and your breath leaves you as the surfers take on waves of 20, 30, 80 feet--waves that could easily kill them--then go back for more, then go back again. It's a cliché to say that surfers live to surf, but after seeing this film, it's a lot easier to understand why. (Sean Nelson) Fox Tower 10
Rock 'n' Roll High School
In this 1979 cult classic, the rock 'n' roll lovin' kids of Vince Lombardi High School team up with The Ramones to stick it to their music-hatin' principal! Yeah! Up with rock! Down with The Man! Blind Onion
* Shaolin Soccer
A hilarious film from Stephen Chow (God of Cookery) that tells the story of Sing (Chow) as he brings Shaolin kung fu to the sport of soccer. Chow's smart blend of slapstick comedy meets its ideal subject matter here--the film's wholly entertaining, and it culminates in a truly enormous battle of good vs. evil... well, as enormous as a soccer field, anyway. (Note that this review refers to the original Hong Kong cut of the film, while the version currently playing is Miramax's recently edited and dubbed version.) (Erik Henriksen) Kennedy School
* The Story of the Weeping Camel
A fascinating look at modern life in the Mongolian desert, framed by the slightest of stories about camel relationships. Some of the staged animal interactions can get a little Disneyfied--you can almost hear Phil Collins wailing on the soundtrack--but this combination of narrative and documentary is otherwise irresistible. (Andrew Wright) Fox Tower 10
* The Village
There are those who think M. Night Shyamalan is brilliant, and those who think he's an overrated hack. The Village will give both camps plenty of ammunition--it's by far his most confident, subtle, contemporarily relevant film yet, but it's also his most uneven. The film follows the residents of an isolated 1897 village, their peaceful lives marred only by the mysterious, violent creatures that prowl the surrounding woods. Just as Shyamalan's previous films (The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs) weren't really about ghosts, superheroes, or aliens, The Village is hardly about monsters lurking in the forest--here, the main foci are the romance between Ivy Walker (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix), and the moral decisions of one of the village elders, Edward Walker (William Hurt). (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
* Waiting for Guffman
Christopher Guest is Corky St. Clair, a (way, way off) Broadway Director, in this "funny because it's true" mockfest about the big-city aspirations of small-town theater. With Parker Posey, Fred Willard, Catherine O'Hara, and Eugene Levy as the soon-to-be-famous players of Blaine, Missouri. Pix Patisserie
Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie
As far as film-length versions of Saturday morning cartoons go, Yu-Gi-Oh! is some serious shit--at the screening I attended, families lined up at six a.m. for a 10 a.m. show, and one irate mother even threatened to phone the Channel 8 scam hotline when she and her bawling child were denied entry. The film itself is about as much fun as watching a 90-minute-long D&D match being played; if you're not into that (like me), Yu-Gi-Oh!'s charms will wear thin about 30 minutes in. I suggest spending the remainder of the film's running time mentally casting the inevitable live-action version (Darryl Hannah in the lead?) and chuckling over the fact that the ungainly lexicon of Yu-Gi-Oh! ("polymerization," "megamorph") will be on the tongues of 10 year olds for the next six months. (Will Gardner) Regal Cinemas, etc.