For more on the fest, see "Owing it to Yourself" on pg. 48. And for more info on Friday's opening night party, and specific shorts programs, hit www.nwfilm.org.THE CENTURY PLAZA
Here's what reality TV should really be about: A cinematic tour of a down-and-out hotel and interviews with the forlorn residents (sort of like a big-screen version of Street Roots). The fact that the hotel, the now-closed Century Plaza, happens to be in Portland only makes their stories more acute and immediate—perhaps you've bumped into the redheaded stripper or the blubbery sex offender or the drug-addled Mormon. At times, the interviews are tedious and wandering, but overall the film is an important, unblinking look at our city's most needy. (Phil Busse) GuildHAPPY HERE AND NOW
See "Owing it to Yourself" on pg. 48. GuildMADE IN SECRET: THE STORY OF THE EAST VAN PORN COLLECTIVE
A group of friends get together to make their own "indie porn" while some guy documents the whole thing. While all the characters are either annoying or completely void of interesting personalities, you can't help but get wrapped up in their mission to make "better" porn. I mean, c'mon... a movie about making porn!? Fuck yeah! (Christine S. Blystone) GuildPOLICE BEAT
Here's another one for the Mercury conflict-of-interest file: Loosely based on a long-running column of the same name in our sister paper to the north, The Stranger, the Sundance-screened Police Beat is the story of a lovelorn, Africa-born bike cop responding to a series of crime vignettes based on actual Seattle police reports. Mercury contributor Charles Mudede wrote the film and he also happened to be my editor when I worked at The Stranger; furthermore, some years ago I briefly dated the film's female lead, recent Portland-import Anna Oxygen. Now that that's all out of the way... Directed by Robinson Devor (who also directed the masterful The Woman Chaser), Police Beat works best as a visual love letter to the city in which it takes place—a beautifully shot exploration of Seattle's secret beauty. When it comes to narrative, the film flounders as often as it succeeds—its subtle humor often falls flat in the hands of its seemingly untrained cast. The film's many pretensions (primarily the choice to narrate virtually all of the film in subtitles) can be endearing and off-putting in equal measure, but as a whole, it's pleasantly uneven. How's that for impartial? (Zac Pennington) GuildQUICK BROWN FOX
One woman tells the story of her mother's decline into the terrible clutches of Alzheimer's. Being such a mysterious disease and all, it's only natural that the film would include interviews with family, friends, and other subjective accounts that are radiant with emotion, confusion, and speculation. An interesting, eerie, and emotionally charged portrait. (Evan James) GuildRAPTURE-PALOOZA
See "Owing it to Yourself" on pg. 48. Conduit DanceROBERT'S STORY
See "Owing it to Yourself" on pg. 48. GuildSHORTS PROGRAMS
In 32 years of existence, the NW Film and Video Festival has finally arrived at a place of... complete inconsistency, at least if this year's official Judge's Selections and honorable mentions are any indication. An all-encompassing survey of shorts ranging from the abstract to the painfully linear, if the Fest as a whole lives up to the expectations set by its shorts, it's going to be only sporadically entertaining. One highlight is Roseburg, Oregon's Matthew Lessner's Darling Darling, a totally surreal yet pretty funny tale of an unfortunate kid picking up his date for a school dance. The date's father has a horse's head and jams out Zombies-style guitar riffs while the kid sits on the couch. Oh yeah, and the kid, weirdly, is played by Arrested Development's Michael Cera. Also catch William Weiss' (Seattle) delirious meditation on missing person ads, and Courtney Booker and Aaron Sorenson's Bastard Wants to Hit Me, a Tex-Avery-style animated music video for the They Might be Giants song of the same name. But be sure to skip Portlander Vincent Caldoni's The Accordion, a 21-minute (!) DV snoozefest about a hotel maid and her instrument, and Vanessa Renwick's Cascadia Terminal. I know Renwick is pretty much God around here, but extended takes of ruined waterfront buildings with ambient music just isn't cutting it anymore. (Justin W. Sanders) GuildTHE TELEPHONE POLE NUMBERING SYSTEM
Claiming to be "reminiscent of the quirky pleasures of Amélie, with the cinematic sophistication of David Lynch," Seattleite William Weiss' film follows an old man who attempts to apply a system of logic to the confusing organization of telephone poles. Guild
24 HOURS ON CRAIGSLIST
Director Michael Ferris Gibson has compiled an exhaustive array of interviews, opening innocuously enough with folks selling household goods, then taking a turn for the hardcore as he explores how sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll intersect on the online bulletin board. The biggest misstep made by Gibson (other than the inclusion of some truly godawful music) is in devoting so much screen time to people selling strollers and boats; his documentary is at its most interesting when it explores how Craigslist functions as part of the sexual counterculture. (Alison Hallett) Clinton Street Theater
ARCHAEOLOGY FEST FILM SERIES
No, it's not the Indiana Jones trilogy. Instead, these are "the best films from the 2004 edition of The Archaeology Channel International Film and Video Festival." Try to contain your artifact- and thesis-inspired excitement, four-eyes. Hollywood Theatre
A film, predictably enough, about writer Truman Capote. Capote is a film that will reward you with its design and execution, if you're willing to suspend the temptation of hair-trigger judgments that may be provoked by its sometimes difficult complexity. I highly recommend you do so. (Evan James) Fox Tower 10
CATERINA IN THE BIG CITY
In what could be the most adorable coming of age movie since Bambi, director Paolo Virzì combines a sympathetic understanding of adolescent angst with an earnest approach to politics. When Caterina's (Alice Teghil) family moves to Rome, the provincial, small-town girl is surprised to find her big city high school divided down political lines. Her awkward attempts to fit in at school, befriending first a fiery young Communist and then a clique of rich, spoiled Fascists, double as a fascinating (if heavy-handed) commentary on the troubled state of Italian politics. (Alison Hallett) Hollywood Theatre
Firstly, Chicken Little is the cutest cartoon character EVER, with that ginormous head and those little green glasses held up by non-existent chicken ears. Everyone knows the story about Chicken Little, that crazy bird who ran around town screaming, "The sky is falling!" When a piece of the "sky" falls on this Chicken Little's huge head, he rings an emergency bell and causes everyone in the town to go crazy and tear the place apart. Nothing ends up happening, the piece of the sky is dismissed as an acorn, and everyone calls Chicken Little names. A year after the incident, Chicken Little and his dork friends are still totally getting bullied at school because of the sky mishap. Since it's a Disney movie, Chicken Little doesn't go Columbine on their asses; instead he fights to prove them wrong and show everyone that he's not the geeky, clumsy loser everyone has tagged him to be. But before he can become the town hero, a piece of the "sky" falls again! Can you believe it? Dude's totally too scared to say anything, though, because he doesn't want everyone thinking he's crazy all over again. But then what happens?! ALIENS INVADE! So now Chicken Little has to work out problems with his father and fight off bullies at school and try to get the girl—all while trying to save Planet Earth! Phew. But really this movie is about the cutest chicken ever (he's wearing glasses!) and an effing hilarious goldfish who doesn't even talk but does some of the funniest shit ever. (Megan Seling) Regal Cinemas, etc.
DETROIT: RUIN OF A CITY
A documentary about Detroit—once one of America's greatest cities, and now one more famous for its problems. Co-director George Steinmetz will be in attendance at this screening. Fifth Avenue Cinemas
Resembling a failed sitcom pilot more than a feature film, Dorian Blues is full of clichés (closeted teenager, overbearing dad, ineffective mom), and sloppy one-liners. Dorian (Michael McMillian) is a teen who is a textbook case of being a homo in the suburbs; following Dorian from coming out to his first serious relationship, Dorian Blues manages to be both extremely bad and sort of charming. If nothing else, it's a white-bread coming-of-age saga that'll elicit feelings of embarrassed recognition in some viewers. (Alison Hallett) Cinema 21
EXORCISING HISTORY: THREE VIDEOS BY SOON-MI YOO
Korean filmmaker Soon-Mi Yoo hits the Cinema Project for a two-night engagement on November 10-11. Using "archival footage and original material," her videos deal with "peripheral histories of Korea." More info: cinemaproject.org. Cinema Project @ New American Art Union
FOUR DAYS IN SEPTEMBER
The U.S. supports the junta in Rio against the Brazilian people, while students take matters into their own hands and kidnap the U.S. ambassador, played by Alan Arkin. Based on a true story. PSU Smith Memorial Student Union
See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK
By now, Edward R. Murrow has almost been forgotten as one of journalism's greatest. But when Murrow took a stand against Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s, he cemented himself as one of journalism's best and boldest. As a director, George Clooney continues to impress; here, with help from charged performances and gorgeous black-and-white cinematography, he utterly immerses the audience in the uncertain era of Murrow's exploits. But what's so powerful about Good Night isn't how authentically it depicts an antiquated era in responsible reportage—as outdated as Murrow's TV programs feel, the film is disconcertingly relevant when one considers the gap between what Murrow worked to make news into (smart, objective, and daring) and what it has become (the prosaic, sound-bite-centric CNN and the simplistic sermons of Fox News and Air America). (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc
See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
See review this issue. Clinton Street Theater
THE LEGEND OF ZORRO
In The Legend of Zorro, a fabulous drag queen (Antonio Banderas) saves Mexican California from Slovenian soap terrorists while riding a pipe-smoking stallion on top of a speeding train. The drag queen, Zorro, is married to the equally heroic Catherine Zeta-Jones, a busty, sword-fighting spy who goes undercover as a terrorist's wife to protect the secret identity of Zorro and save America. And that's not all—Zorro's ambitious toddler son is caught in the middle, confused by his father's sudden superheroic absences and the playacting affections of his terrorist-swindling mother! In short, Zorro—which is sort of a romantic comedy woven into an action-adventure flick woven into a cartoon woven into a conspiratorial thriller woven into a parable about family life—is one weird-ass movie. But in the end, I like what the people like—and if the audience's wild applause is any indication, the people like it best when a horse jumps from the top of a cliff onto the top of a speeding train and whinnies triumphantly. (Evan James) Regal Cinemas, etc.
LOST FILM FEST
A "multi-media counter-hegemonic festival" that focuses on pranks against corporations and government institutions. Incorporating live performance and video, the fest claims to have "a sexy, smash-it-up, radical anti-capitalist anti-globalization perspective." It could be cool, or it could be that these guys are trying way too hard. Reed College
Made up of nine separate sequences showing different women (including Sissy Spacek, Glenn Close, Holly Hunter, and the omnipresent Dakota Fanning) dealing with difficult emotional experiences, Nine Lives' scenes at first appear to be unrelated—but by the end of the film, a complicated web of subtle connections becomes evident. Nine Lives' major concept? Human relationships cause emotional hardships, no matter what people's age, class, or race. That's hardly a profound realization, true, but thankfully director Rodrigo García is able to capture passion in each scene, forming a strong bond between the characters and the audience. (Christine S. Blystone) Fox Tower 10
Prime begins with counselor Lisa (Meryl Streep) telling her recently divorced client, 37-year-old Rafi (Uma Thurman), to embrace her new life and live it to the fullest. So when Rafi meets David (Bryan Greenberg), a hunky painter 14 years her junior, she does just that, deciding to have a little fun and enjoy the ride. When the two fall in love, it's only hampered by one thing: Rafi's discovery that David is Lisa's son. Big shocker, right? And a funny one, right? Well, no—the whole plot development mostly just makes Prime uncomfortable and lame. (Christine S. Blystone) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Saw II is pretty much the stupid version of Seven and the stupider version of Saw. (Katie Shimer) Regal Cinemas, etc.
See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
THE SQUID AND THE WHALE
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10
After Argentina's economy collapsed in 2001, once-productive factories went idle overnight, tossing workers into lives of desperate unemployment. Director Avi Lewis (who'll be in attendance at this screening) does a remarkable job documenting several groups of blue-collar factory workers in Buenos Aires who re-occupy and restart the companies. It seems like a proletariat fairy tale, but it's really happening; that's reason enough to see this film. Although there is a clear bias throughout this documentary, the director resists falling into easy traps and instead lets the unbelievable story tell itself. (Phil Busse) Fifth Avenue Cinemas
TOUCH THE SOUND
See review this issue. Cinema 21
1998's glamrock film, starring Ewan McGregor, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, and Christian Bale. Plus, director Todd Haynes will be in attendance for "casual conversation" prior to the screening. Also: beer. Seating's limited, so RSVP. Small A Projects
THE WEATHER MAN
Nicolas Cage plays milquetoasty Chicago weatherman David Spritz. A disappointment to his novelist father (Michael Caine), David struggles to maintain relationships with his surly daughter, troublemaker son, and angry ex-wife (Hope Davis). Sure, David's angling for a job on Bryant Gumbel's morning show, but he's consistently reminded of how he's already fucked up his current life. Maybe it's the bland marketing campaign, or the presence of Pirates of the Caribbean and The Ring director Gore Verbinski, but I expected The Weather Man to be a so-so midlife angst story, targeted at and satisfying mainstream Americans who hit the multiplex after a meal at McDonalds. But instead, The Weather Man skewers that very demographic—and turns out to be a fairly intelligent and funny examination of self-loathing, familial relationships, and unaccomplished goals. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
WHERE THE TRUTH LIES
A whodunit centered around a fictional '50s comedy duo; an oddly cast (but surprisingly sufficient) Kevin Bacon is paired with Colin Firth, who plays the straight man to Bacon's jerkier, dirtier half. The mystery: A young woman's found dead in the comedians' hotel suite, and though never accused of involvement, the duo breaks up afterward. Skip ahead to the '70s, and cue plucky journalist Karen O'Connor (a fairly flat Alison Lohman), who wants to find out what happened. The details of the plot are sometimes hard to follow, partly because as the mystery unfolds, the events that take place are hilariously improbable (lobsters, for instance, play a key role). What's more interesting is simply observing the styles and portrayals of the eras that the film toggles between. (Karen's wardrobe is to die for.) (Marjorie Skinner) Fox Tower 10