For more info on any of the fest's films, hit www.nwfilm.org.
* Betty Blowtorch (And Her Amazing True Life Adventures)
Following the tumultuous trajectory of L.A.'s Betty Blowtorch for two years, filmmaker Anthony Scarpa captures the highs and fatal lows of the band's unfortunately brief existence. Guild Theater, Whitsell Auditorium
* Jandek on Corwood
See music, page 19. Guild Theater
Last of the First
A tribute to the Harlem Blues and Jazz Band. (I worked for a good ten minutes trying to come up with a hee-larious Harlem Globetrotters reference to go along with that synopsis, but couldn't come up with anything funny. Hey... do you have a hee-larious Harlem Globetrotters/Harlem Blues and Jazz Band joke? If so, send it to email@example.com for your chance to win two free movie tickets!) Guild Theater
Man with the Golden Arm
Part of the Reel Music Fest's tribute to composer Elmer Bernstein, who scored this Frank Sinatra flick. (He also scored Ghostbusters, but you don't see the Northwest Film Center highlighting that classic, do you? Bullshit!) Guild Theater
* The Nomi Song
The Nomi Song pays homage to Klaus Nomi, one of the first casualties of AIDS. The documentary paints a fabulous, gritty and wild landscape of late '70s-early '80s New York, and using interviews with people who knew Nomi and tons of amazing concert footage, the audience is privy to a well-rendered portrait of the greatest pop star that never was. (Michael Svoboda) Guild Theater
Whose Is This Song?
Inspired by a song, this film takes a "comic road movie across Greece, Turkey, and the Balkans." That doesn't bode well, as those are officially the least funny countries on the whole planet. I mean, shit--do they even have roads in the Balkans? Probably not. Whitsell Auditorium
Jewish Film Festival
For more info on any of the fest's films, hit www.nwfilm.org.
* Broken Wings
Facing their father's recent death, the Ulman family attempts to cope with economic hardship and immense psychological pain. Fortunately, first time director Nir Bergman never resorts to tacky, coercive strategies to convince the viewer that the Ulman family is worth crying for; when the oldest daughter walks along the highway after being kicked out of the house for insulting her mother, no orchestra swells--it is silence, the most tasteful of heart-wrenching cinematic devices, which surrounds her. (Evan James) Guild Theater
Heir to an Execution
50 years after the event, a granddaughter looks into the 1953 executions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who provided atomic secrets to Russia. Whitsell Auditorium
Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust
A look at Hollywood's often mixed reactions to and portrayals of the Holocaust. Whitsell Auditorium
Le Grand Role
A man gets a role in a big play, and then loses it--but doesn't have the heart to tell his dying wife that he's lost the part. So instead, he and his buddies put on an elaborate hoax to keep his wife out of the know. Whitsell Auditorium
Moving Heaven and Earth & The Last Marranos
A film about the Abayudaya, a tribe living in Uganda that has been practicing Judaism for over 80 years. Plays with The Last Marranos, which follows residents of the Iberian Peninsula who were forced to publicly give up Judaism during the Spanish Inquisition, yet still secretly practiced their religion. Guild Theater
Wondrous Oblivion is a "comic drama" about a Jewish community in 1960s London. 11-year-old David (Sam Smith) loves cricket, but he sucks at it--luckily, a cricket-lovin' Jamaican family moves in next door. But prejudice is rampant, and David's parents--who survived the Holocaust--are soon under pressure to end their son's cricket-centric relationships with the Jamaican immigrants. Whitsell Auditorium
Assault on Precinct 13
A remake of John Carpenter's 1976 thriller about cops under seige from gang members. This version stars Ethan Hawke and Laurence Fishburne, and starts Wednesday, January 19; watch for our review next week, and call theaters for showtimes.
* The Aviator
Seeing Oliver Stone's Alexander is enough to make anyone boycott sweeping three-hour biopics for life--but before you make that rash decision, consider the case of Martin Scorsese's The Aviator. Like Alexander, Scorsese's three-hour biopic of the late eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes is the tale of a prickly visionary whose own obsessions brought about his downfall. But unlike Alexander, The Aviator is engrossing, self-assured, well acted, and not a big pile of crap. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Beyond the Sea
Kevin Spacey dives even deeper into his cesspool of narcissism with Beyond the Sea, a postmodern, self-referential song and dance biopic/fantasy about Bobby Darin. (Michael Svoboda) City Center 12, Pioneer Place Stadium 6
* Bottle Rocket
Wes Anderson's clever, affectionate look at a group of would-be losers who believe themselves to be dashing robbers. Not only does it have sublime and gripping cinematography, but it's knock-you-on-your-ass hilarious. Kennedy School
The Butterfly Effect
The latest feature-length advertisement for Ashton Kutcher's bone structure, this film is so stultifyingly poor on every level that you really have no business watching it unless you're (a) 12 years old, (b) a sadly desperate gay man/straight woman with a thing for hunky morons, or (c) 13 years old. (Sean Nelson) Fifth Avenue Cinemas
That crazy bastard Cary Grant meets up with some suspense and the smokin' Audrey Hepburn in Paris. Cafe Nola
Everything in Closer revolves around four characters (Natalie Portman, Jude Law, Julia Roberts, and Clive Owen) and their well- and ill-intentioned romantic and sexual experiences with each other. Closer's incestuously twisting, darkly fascinating narrative is rooted in the psychosexual drives of its characters, and it's all topped off with enough sadistic mindfucks and inevitable despair to satisfy even the staunchest emotional masochist. (Erik Henriksen) Fox Tower 10, Lloyd Cinemas, Westgate
Coach Carter See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
Common Ground: Oregon's Ocean
You won't hate this half-hour eco-documentary not because of its sound environmental message, but because it's exactly like those crappy educational videos you had to watch in high school in Natural Sciences 101, complete with boring scientists and a hilarious '80s synthesizer soundtrack. Also, it's hosted by a man who looks a lot like Santa Claus. (Erik Henriksen) Hollywood Theatre
Elektra See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
* End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones
Evenly tracing the feats and pratfalls of the band's entire career with admirable honesty, End of the Century relies upon narrowly captured insights of the original foursome--miraculously filmed just prior to the untimely domino deaths of Joey, Dee Dee, and Johnny over the last four years. (Zac Pennington) Laurelhurst
"Heybuh ebuhbobby! Fabbuh Albuhbuh isbuh abuh fubuhnny, sweebuht stobuhry forbuh kibuhds whobuh likebuh carbuhtoons. Anbuhone buhver buh agebuh uhbuh threebuh maybuh wantbuh tobuh buhbringbuh abuhlongbuh abuh shapbuhned obuhject cabuhpabuh uhbuh carrbuhing oubuht uhbuh selfbuh-inbuhflicbuhted frontbuhal-lobuhbotobuhmy." (Mushmouth) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Fear and Trembling
Many a film has been made about the apparently insurmountable differences between Eastern and Western cultures and ways of thought (Lost in Translation and Big Bird in Japan, to name two). In Fear and Trembling, this theme is given a new twist: Amélie (Sylvie Testud) is Belgian, but she spent five years of her childhood in Japan. When Amélie decides to return, she takes a job as an interpreter in a Japanese firm--but despite her education, she finds herself assigned to menial tasks such as preparing tea and running errands. (Alison Hallett) Hollywood Theatre
The wildly imaginative James Barrie (Johnny Depp) is mired in conservative, early 1900s British society. But Barrie dreams big, and when he meets up with the Llewelyn Davies family--made up of charming widow Sylvia (Kate Winslet) and her three impossibly adorable sons--he hatches the idea for Peter Pan. It goes without saying that sweet interludes, heartbreak, tragedy, and saccharine-sweet inspirational sound bites ("Just believe") soon follow. (Erik Henriksen) City Center 12, Fox Tower 10, Hilltop, Lloyd Mall, Movies on TV, Westgate
* The Future of Food See review this issue. Clinton Street Theater
* The Grifters
Stephen Frears' film about conmen and conwomen, starring Annette Bening, Angelica Huston, and the ever-adorable John Cusack. Pix Patisserie
* Hotel Rwanda
Even if the acting is stiff and the plot a bit too tidy, you're obligated to see Hotel Rwanda. In 1994, over the course of 100 days, nearly one million Rwandans were slaughtered with machetes and clubs. It's a killing rate that humbles the Nazis; news photos showed rivers bloated with bodies and roadblocks made from corpses. Hotel Rwanda tells the true story of Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle), a hotel manager who gave refuge to 1200 Rwandans in the midst of that hell on earth. (Phil Busse) Fox Tower 10
* The House of Flying Daggers
While director Yimou Zhang's Flying Daggers lacks the emotional and philosophical resonance of his Hero, it's still a solid entry into the wuxia genre. The action-savvy cast is fully utilized in Zhang's breathtaking action sequences, and for all of its greater hopes and attempts--the film's exhaustingly, insecurely histrionic--Flying Daggers ends up being best at what it seems most self-conscious about being: a slam-bang kung fu movie. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
* I Y Huckabees
David O. Russell's pseudo-intellectual romp through any and all pop philosophic concepts is something at once contrived and organic. Watching Huckabees, you never get quite lost--you always know it's a movie--but it's so confident in its uniqueness that you won't really care. (Erik Henriksen) Bagdad Theater, Laurelhurst
In Good Company See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
Incident at Loch Ness
A mock documentary about the making of a fictional documentary gone awry. The film is cleverly constructed (though it's not nearly as quick and witty as it stuffily fancies itself to be), and eventually evolves into something engaging. (Marjorie Skinner) Hollywood Theatre
Inside Iraq: The Untold Stories
Despite Inside Iraq's focus on the aftermath of the U.S.'s actions, the film largely settles for documenting only the rosiest aspects of America's influence. (Erik Henriksen) Laurelhurst
Kinsey convincingly argues that its subject's unflinchingly technical attitude towards sex helped liberate the American people in a time of intense prudishness. Good point, but what's missing is any exploration of why Kinsey is the way he is. (Justin Sanders) Regal Cinemas, etc.
* The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
I guess I could do the stereotypical critic thing with Wes Anderson's latest, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. But instead, I'll just say this: I liked The Life Aquatic the most out of anything else I've seen this year--and maybe for even longer than that. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Meet the Fockers
The clashing of two archetypical families has been used on plenty of occasions as the basis for comedy, and the key is great casting. Fockers has that in aces, but director Jay Roach (Austin Powers) proves that you can have a great hand and still not know how to play it. (Michael Svoboda) Regal Cinemas, etc.
* The Motorcycle Diaries
A duo of medical school friends (Rodrigo de la Serna and Gael Garcia Bernal) ride, push, and carry their motorcycle across Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and Peru, generally achieving the kind of good times/bad times adventure balance that all great road trip stories thrive on. After traveling thousands of miles, it's made clear just who Bernal's playing: Ernesto Guevara. (Justin Sanders) Edgefield, Fox Tower 10
* National Lampoon's Vacation
"I'm on a pilgrimage to see a moose. Praise Marty Moose! Holy shit!" Laurelhurst
* Ocean's Twelve
Picking up from 2001's Ocean's Eleven, Twelve follows the same formula for success: round up Hollywood's biggest stars, dress them sharply and have them act charming, and round it off with the confident, cool, and stylish direction of one of Hollywood's best, Steven Soderbergh. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Aspiring filmmakers, enthusiasts, and armchair critics gather and enjoy homemade shorts. Bring your own film, or at least your own loudmouth opinions. Plus, admission is free! To enter a film, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Guild Theater
Phantom of the Opera
Helmed by the Queer Eye of Cinema himself, Joel Schumacher, The Phantom of the Opera is best described as a cheesed-out '80s synth-pop air-guitar gothic romance novel mess of a movie. (Michael Svoboda) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Frankie Muniz gives voice to Stripes, a zebra who wants to be a racehorse. Yes, it's as bad as it sounds, and if having kids means sitting through insufferable crap like this, I won't be breeding anytime soon. (Alison Hallett) Regal Cinemas, etc.
* Raiders of the Lost Ark
Boy finds ark, boy loses ark, Nazis have their skin melted off by angry god. Valley Theater
Blind Onion continues its Philip K. Dick-inspired movie series with Screamers, which has the guy who played Robocop fighting sentient robots. Blind Onion
Paul Giamatti plays Miles, a would-be writer who accompanies his best friend Jack (Thomas Haden Church) on a weeklong trip through California's wine country for a final bachelor's hurrah before Jack's upcoming wedding. While Sideways is enjoyable, it's ultimately unsatisfying--we watch as Miles and Jack are stripped of all their illusions, but we never find out what they're replaced with. (Alison Hallett) Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing, City Center 12, Fox Tower 10, Lloyd Cinemas
The Snows of Kilimanjaro
Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner star in this adaptation of Hemingway's story. Expect love, loss, self-loathing, and perhaps a gigantic fucking mountain. Cafe Nola
A slow-paced, meandering slice-of-life drama about a family (Téa Leoni, Adam Sandler, Paz Vega) in turmoil. While the film really isn't all that profound, enjoyment can be found in its subtleties. (Katie Shimer) Regal Cinemas, etc.
The Strange Love of Martha Ivers
Kirk Douglas and Barbara Stanwyck star in this noirish mystery. This is Douglas' first film, which means it was made sometime in the mid-1700s. Old Town Pizza
* Three Films About Martin Luther King, Jr.
See My, What A Busy Week! page 15. Clinton Street Theater
* Vera Drake
With women in a frenzy over the GOP's implied threat to yank our reproductive rights from under us, it's as good a time as any to revisit the wholesome, family value driven days of illegal abortions, yeah? (Marjorie Skinner) Laurelhurst
A Very Long Engagement
Directed by Amélie's Jean-Pierre Jeunet and starring Amélie's Audrey Tautou, which is pretty much all you need to know. Mathilde (Tautou) and Manech (Gaspard Ulliel) are those involved in the titular engagement, but when Manech goes missing in WWI, Mathilde won't shut up about how he's still alive, even as all her stereotypically quirky supporting players try to talk some sense into her. (Erik Henriksen) Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing, City Center 12, Fox Tower 10
* Virgin See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre
Wise Old Little Boy & Wild at Heart
Wise Old is a documentary on the Microphones and the Little Wings, while Wild at Heart is a David Lynch flick, which pretty much tells you what you're in for. Meow Meow
A stupid thriller that has poor Michael Keaton pretending to believe that ghosts can talk through static-filled TVs. Possibly the least scary film ever made (and that declaration includes My Little Pony and Carebears and shit). (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.