Art Institute of Portland, 1122 NW Davis
2004 Bioneers Conference Do you know what "bioneers" are? They're HIPPIES! FILTHY, HEMP-WEARIN', PHISH-LISTENIN' HIPPIES! And there'll be "bioneers" aplenty at this video screening of speakers from the 2004 Bioneers Conference, and there'll also be a lot of talk about "the emerging environmental health movement" and various other hippie bullshit.
The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3-D Kickass filmmaker Robert Rodriguez had one of his kids, Racer, help write Shark Boy and Lava Girl--a fact that you'd think would make this movie great. But the Rodriguezes do nothing but cram the screen with hyper-colored CG, lame 3-D, and a plot that's both boring and stupidly simple; if El Mariachi, Sin City, and even Spy Kids showcase the best of Rodriguez's instincts, Shark Boy and Lava Girl is a wince-inducing montage of the worst. (Erik Henriksen)
The Animation Show See review this issue.
Ararat Novelistic in scope and effortless in its ability to balance many plot intricacies, Ararat is Atom Egoyan's most ambitious, provocative film to date. At the center is Raffi (David Alpay), a young Armenian man conflicted by a knotty familial dynamic.
Bad Guy See review this issue.
Batman Begins See review this issue.
Brothers Every Danish movie I've ever seen has left me feeling as though my will to live just got taken out back and beaten with a tire iron. Brothers is true to form. Michael (Ulrich Thomsen) is a professional soldier with a beautiful wife (Connie Nielsen) and two adorable little girls. When his plane is shot down in Afghanistan, he's presumed dead and his devastated wife, Sarah, is left to pick up the pieces of her life. One of the pieces she picks up is Michael's brother, Jannick (Nikolaj Lie Kaas). The catch? Michael isn't dead; he comes back a changed man who beats on his wife and terrifies his children, and everyone realizes that life was better when they thought he was dead. (Alison Hallett)
Crash Crash, the directing debut of Million Dollar Baby screenwriter Paul Haggis, certainly doesn't want for hubris, but ultimately it's an exhibit of laudable ambition overwhelming Haggis' still-developing narrative abilities. Although Haggis' would-be epic portrayal of race relations in Los Angeles sports a handful of genuinely searing moments, it's hard to shake the sense of someone constantly rearranging 3 by 5 cards behind the scenes for maximum impact. (Andrew Wright)
Dr. Zhivago Post-Bolshevik Revolution, Dr. Yuri Zhivago (Omar Sharif) lives, loves, learns, and corrects people who mispronounce his name.
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room This is more than just a play-by-play look at the rise, fall, and impact of Enron--the film also asks why people act immorally, and (perhaps more damningly) why others allow it to happen. Surprisingly, all of this makes for dark comedy rather than a muckraking expos; rather than pushing its political agenda, Enron simply confronts you with the worst of human nature. (Andrea Chalupa)
Gimme Doughnut: Raw See Food Events, pg. 37.
High Tension Notable more for its nation of origin than anything else, the French slasher High Tension is pretty unremarkable--an awkwardly formulaic update of the slasher genre of the '70s and '80s (complete with cartoonish gore, unnecessarily loud florescent lights, creepy dolls, a gratuitous shower scene, and, of course, a dubious plot twist) unsuccessfully aimed at American horror audiences' bloodlust. (Zac Pennington)
The Honeymooners Starring Cedric the Entertainer (who should now be called Cedric the Bore, or Cedric the Absolute Bore) as Ralph Kramden and Mike Epps as Ralph's buddy Ed Norton, the black version of TV's The Honeymooners is just plain dumb. (Charles Mudede)
Howl's Moving Castle The latest from genius Japanese anime filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki. A young girl, Sophie, is transformed into a hunched, wrinkled old woman--confused and frightened, she hobbles out to the misty countryside, hoping to find Howl, an enigmatic young wizard who might be able to help her. To proselytize: Go see it, right now. To use what sounds like hyperbole, but isn't: It's amazing. (Erik Henriksen)
Ikiru Akira Kurosawa's tale of a man (Takashi Shimura) who finds out he's dying of cancer.
Inside Iraq: The Untold Stories To be fair, Inside Iraq offers more than its share of stuff that you probably haven't seen. But for every revelation, there's 10 minutes of negligible footage. And despite Inside Iraq's focus on the aftermath of the U.S.'s actions, filmmaker Mike Shiley largely settles for documenting only the rosiest aspects of America's influence. (Erik Henriksen)
The Killer Elite Never thought you'd read the words "Robert Duvall" and "kung fu" in the same sentence, did you? Well, you just did, buster--thanks to that crazy bastard Sam Peckinpah!
Kung Fu Hustle The latest from Hong Kong's superstar director and star Stephen Chow, Kung Fu Hustle is all over the map: It's part slapstick, part hokey drama, part action extravaganza, and part cartoon--and Chow blends all of these seemingly disparate parts to make a nearly perfect comedy. (Erik Henriksen)
Ladies in Lavender Ladies in Lavender has Judi Dench and Maggie Smith playing two dames sharing a house in lovely Cornwall. One morning, the sisters spy a body splayed out on the rocks. Discovering a young man (Daniel Brühl), they nurse him back to health. The most interesting moments come when Ursula (Dench) reveals her unrequited romantic fascination with the young man, and when snippets of subtext-heavy dialogue result between the sisters. In terms of plot, there's a whole lot of light stroking along these lines, yet the film never quite gets to the soap opera-like climaxes that seem inevitable. (Evan James)
The Last Woman on Earth Roger Corman's 1960 film about--you guessed it--the last woman on earth. Preceded by an episode of the '50s sci-fi serial Radar Men from the Moon!
Layer Cake Neophyte director Matthew Vaughn doesn't steer too far from the neo-British gangster/heist film genre with this one, and considering I'm the only person under the age of 31 who didn't like Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, I wasn't expecting to enjoy Layer Cake. But I did. Daniel Craig stars as an unnamed London dope distributor (he's credited as "XXXX") who's hoping to retire. His last assignment, of course, is a snafu waiting to happen, and XXXX soon discovers that you can never leave the business--or if you do, it won't be when or how you decide. What distinguishes Layer Cake is that it avoids making its characters caricatures. As a result, the film escapes becoming a Ritchie--or even a Tarantino--knockoff and is content for what it is: A good crime thriller. (Will Gardner)
Little Vera A young girl (Natalya Negoda) comes of age in the Soviet Union. Sounds cheery, eh?
The Longest Yard Taking over Burt Reynolds' role from the awesome 1974 original Yard is an increasingly tubby Adam Sandler, playing ex-NFL quarterback Paul Crewe. After a drunk driving escapade, Crewe is sent to a penitentiary where a pigskin lovin' warden forces him to put together a team of inmates to take on his cruel semi-pro guards in a football game. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
Lords of Dogtown Lords of Dogtown, the mass-marketed dramatization of the excellent skateboarding documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys, isn't a bad film so much as an unnecessary one. Sure, the human elements of the Z-Boys' story get room to breathe than they did in the doc, but there's no new viewpoint added to the Z-Boys mythos; the super-slick, Sony-produced Dogtown just feels like a retread of the documentary, and one written as if it were a tween-targeted pilot for the WB. (Erik Henriksen)
Los Angeles Plays Itself Los Angeles native Thom Andersen's documentary about how L.A. is used as both a character and a location in various films.
Machuca An outstanding film set in the final days before Pinochet's coup in Chile, told from the point of view of two young boys (Matías Quer and Ariel Mateluna). It's a singularly moving story--seething with hatred, but at least temporarily transcending it. (Marjorie Skinner)
Mad Hot Ballroom Enjoy watching this documentary about Puerto Rican children who compete for first place in a do-or-die ballroom dance competition between New York public schools. Witness a little kid who can't speak English woo the crowd with his scandalous Cuban motion. See elementary schoolers dance. Feel simultaneously proud and jealous. (Evan James)
Mr. and Mrs. Smith Watching Mr. and Mrs. Smith is exactly like spending two hours with two gorgeous-ass boring people, without even a chance of lackluster eye-candy sex. For shit's sake, the super-hunky Brad Pitt (John Smith) and perfectly pouty Angelina Jolie (Jane Smith) don't even bother to hump onscreen. If you've seen the preview, you get the joke. John and Jane Smith are both assassins, although neither knows their spouse is one, too. It's stupid, boring, and totally predictable. (Katie Shimer)
My Summer of Love See review this issue.
Nicki's Way A short documentary about Nicki Rose, who submitted a demo video of his original songs to record companies--while he was never signed, the video spread across the country. The doc will be followed by music from Carol's Chump and "Nicki Rose realization band" Rapture Warrior. And all of it's free!
Oldboy Min-sik Choi stars as the utterly unextraordinary Dae-su Oh, who, without warning or reason, is abducted and imprisoned in a tiny room. Inexplicably waking up on the roof of an apartment building 15 years later, Dae-su discovers he has only five days to unravel the knotted mystery of his imprisonment. Chan-wook Park's brutally euphoric film is an appropriately surreal, bloody, and moving story of vicious revenge and shocking mystery. It's not an easy film to watch, but it is a great one. (Erik Henriksen)
Open Screening: Politics Films screened on a first come, first serve basis, with a focus on films related to politics either global, national, or local. To show your film, email email@example.com.
Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid The fire and thunder of The Wild Bunch may have faded, but Sam Peckinpah's deconstructionalist bent continued with 1973's mournful era-ender, fueled by the devastatingly deep byplay between leads Kris Kristofferson and the peerless James Coburn. Peckinpah remains an acquired taste for many, but the languid poetics on display here just might show the man at his best--when a director can craft an unforgettably moving curtain call involving Slim Pickens, of all people, he's clearly one for the ages. Bob Dylan provided the soundtrack (which includes the first appearance of his classic Knocking on Heaven's Door); he also acts, unfortunately. (Andrew Wright)
The Perfect Man Does anyone care about Hilary Duff's new movie? NO. Why? Because anyone who's anyone knows that Ms. Duff is OLD NEWS, and that she doesn't have ANYTHING on Lindsay Lohan--indeed, anyone who's anyone is WAY more excited for Ms. Lohan's Herbie: Fully Loaded, which comes out next week. Anyway, watch for our film short of The Perfect Man next week, but more importantly, watch for our big review of Ms. Lohan's Herbie.
Popaganda: The Art and Crimes of Ron English See review this issue.
Rhythm and Blues Revue A 1955 concert film featuring Nat "King" Cole, Nipsey Russell, Faye Adams, Big Joe Turner, and others. Preceded by a Flash Gordon short.
Ride the High Country Sam Peckinpah's western about friendship, loneliness, ex-marshals, and double-crosses.
Second Annual One-Minute Film Festival See My, What a Busy Week! on pg. 11.
Secret Cinema Saturday Cafe Nola shows a secret film. Aaand... that's about all there is to say about that.
She Gods of Shark Reef Hot chicks on a tropical island, sharks, and a "hideous stone god," all circa 1958 and courtesy of Roger Corman. Preceded by an episode of the 1950s' detective drama Dragnet.
Short Cut to Nirvana: Kumbh Mela This documentary reveals India's Kumbh Mela, the oldest and largest religious gathering in the history of mankind. It's fascinating that such a massive event takes place while being largely absent from the consciousness of the Western world, but the bulk of this film's hour and a half are left to the useless musings of several honkies in tow with the crew and footage of people praying. (Marjorie Skinner)
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants seemed to have all the comfortable trappings I've come to expect in vapid tween fodder. Imagine my surprise, then, when halfway through this episodic coming-of-age story a rather startling sentiment began to emerge in my mind: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is fucking delightful--it's a perfectly contrived teen heart-tugger, and a surprisingly enjoyable watch. (Zac Pennington)
Skaters for Portland Skateparks Benefit Check out an evening of skate video premieres, indulge in beer, and enter raffles--and all of it goes to help out the very excellent organization Skaters for Portland Skateparks.
To Live A couple in China in the '40s splits up because of the husband's compulsive gambling. When he loses everything, he becomes a puppeteer and his wife returns.
The Tour Baby! A behind-the-scenes look at the Tour de France. Proceeds go to the Lance Armstrong Foundation, and there'll also be a raffle and an appearance by filmmaker Scott Coady.
Trailer Trash Tuesdays Cafe Nola serves up an all-night-long program of vintage movie trailers and ads.
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill is a feature-length documentary with all the depth of a human interest story on the nightly news. Parrots follows a patently dull, quasi-homeless hippie who tends to a flock of wild parrots in an old San Francisco neighborhood. Here's my impression of the film: "SQUAWK! SQUAWK! SQUAWK!" "I really think the parrots have come to love me. I know I've come to love them." "SQUAWK! SQUAWK! SQUAWK!" "That's Connor! He's my favorite of all the parrots." "SQUAWK! SQUAWK! SQUAWK!" (Cue cheesy montage of parrots in trees with laughably bad, bluesy New Age music.) "Some people love dogs. Some people love horses. I happen to love these parrots!" "SQUAWK! SQUAWK! SQUAWK!" (Chas Bowie)