The 40-Year-Old Virgin
A giddily puerile and surprisingly sweet film that heartily deserves its R rating. Steve Carell earnestly plays Andy, a—well, duh—40-year-old virgin. When his coworkers discover that the dorky, uptight, and weirdly adorable Andy has never—how shall I put this?—fucked, they decide to do something about it. Hi-jinks, of course, ensue. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
The Aristocrats is about a joke, and the film's title is that joke's punchline. I know that sounds like a spoiler—and well, maybe it is, a little bit—but the punchline is hardly the point of The Aristocrats. So what exactly is the point of a 90-minute documentary about a joke in which the punchline doesn't really matter? Well, depending on your constitution, it's either an elaborate excuse for dozens of comedians to wax indulgently about infants being paw-fucked by the family dog or a brilliantly left-handed examination of the very nature of humor itself. Either way, I nearly pissed myself with laughter—and I defy anyone with even the faintest appreciation for sophomoric humor not to do the same. (Zac Pennington) Laurelhurst, Mission Theater
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10
Bicycle Film Night
See My, What a Busy Week on pg. 11. Clinton Street Theater
Brian Frye: Selections from the Waste-Books & Other Miscellany
New York underground filmmaker Brian Frye, whose work has screened at the 2002 Whitney Biennial, the New York Film Fest, and the San Francisco Film Fest, is bringing a "best of" selection of his films to town, as well as films by Chicago filmmaker Jim Trainor and San Francisco beat poet Christopher MacLaine. Frye's films will screen Saturday night; Trainor and MacLaine's on Sunday. 40 Frames
Bill Murray plays Don Johnston ("No," he says, often and resignedly. "Johnston. With a 'T.'"), a lonely, lazy, and rich man who receives an anonymous letter. Claiming to be from an old flame, it informs him he has a son he never knew of. The bewildered Johnston shows the letter to his mystery-obsessed neighbor (an excellent Jeffrey Wright), who convinces Johnston to go on a cross-country trip to discover who sent the letter. Along the way, Murray's biggest talent—simultaneously seeming like a total schlub and the coolest guy ever—meshes perfectly with writer/director Jim Jarmusch's meditative style. By the film's end, Johnston's quest is secondary, pushed aside by the audience's simple act of knowing the utterly believable and sympathetic Johnston so disarmingly well. (Erik Henriksen) Laurelhurst, St. Johns Pub
A film, predictably enough, about Truman Capote, Capote follows the writer during the creation of In Cold Blood, the book that both made him a household name and distressed him so much that he never completed another work. 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) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
In terms of sheer spectacle, Tim Burton's never been stronger and the film never drags, though it never quite thrills either. Johnny Depp's androgynous, purple-gloved fop of a Wonka is just too discomforting to completely embrace as a main character, and the narrative never builds to any satisfying resolution. On the upside, though, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory does inflict unapologetic, cruel punishment on four very obnoxious children. (Justin Sanders) OMSI IMAX, Laurelhurst, Avalon, Milwaukie Cinemas
The Constant Gardener
A valiant adaptation of an utterly lame John LeCarre novel. I certainly don't fault great director Fernando Meirelles (City of God) for wanting to try his hand with a crossover thriller; I do, however, fault LeCarre for writing such a bland, paint-by-numbers plot—which features Ralph Fiennes as an ineffective diplomat investigating the death of his wife, Tessa (Rachel Weisz), via a shopping list of clichés: Mysterious black cars, anonymous death threats, and gripping dialogue such as "I suggest you quit all this snooping around and put Tessa's death behind you!" (Chas Bowie) Cinemagic
It's a comparison as unfair as it is inevitable: Tim Burton's latest stop motion film (he co-directed with animator Mike Johnson), Corpse Bride, vs. his prior one, The Nightmare Before Christmas. Corpse Bride has a good story (nerd getting engaged to a corpse), and it's entertaining enough (despite some nonsensical plot turns, halfassed songs, and a forcibly happy ending). But Nightmare had something that's lacking here: characters. Corpse Bride has nothing but passive, largely uninteresting puppets that merely react to the story's manufactured twists; they're as empty and lifeless (pun totally intended) as the toys that they are. (Erik Henriksen) Westgate
Maybe black Americans and foreigners are cast as stereotypical characters in Hollywood as a result of equal opportunity employment. Or, in the case of Derailed, maybe they're filling in for prevalent racist and xenophobic notions that already torture the guilt-ridden white American psyche. Clive Owen plays a white everyman who, after a lapse in marital fidelity that finds him entangled with lower-class criminal forces, must reclaim his peace of mind by exterminating a three-pronged threat of criminal otherness: the Homicidal Foreigner, the Black Criminal (Xzibit), and the Two-Faced Woman (Jennifer Aniston). (Evan James) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Dakota Fanning is the spawn of Satan. That's the only plausible explanation: the horrible little beady eyes, the expressions of pure evil, the way she captivates middle-aged women. How else could she possibly star in atrocious movie after atrocious movie and still have Hollywood producers knocking down her door? In fact, I'd wager that Satan himself might also be the mastermind behind this whole movie, which also has something to do with horses and Kurt Russell. Nothing else could account for the sheer horror that is Dreamer. If you don't believe me, and still really want to see Dreamer, let me save you the trouble: Don't. Your soul is worth more than that. (Mike Filtz) Sherwood 10, Hilltop, Evergreen Parkway, Division Street
The Dying Gaul
See review this issue. Cinema 21
In short, cue the soundtrack-enabling emo events: Drew's (Orlando Bloom) awkward/heartwarming reunion with his extended family, Drew and Claire's (Kirsten Dunst) budding romance, Drew's very Jerry Maguire-ish awakening, and long sequences that exist for no other reason than to celebrate filmmaker Cameron Crowe's encyclopedic knowledge of, and boundless love for, pop music and rock 'n' roll Americana. Together, all of Elizabethtown's style and vibe has just enough weight to justify the film's plot, but none beyond that; you have to respect a guy who can include both suicide and death as major plot points yet make both come across as moments of mere inconsequential whimsy. (Erik Henriksen) Westgate
Get Rich or Die Tryin'
Remember how 50 Cent got shot nine times? So does his accountant. Jesus—for that matter, so does my grandmother. I mean, how could anyone possibly forget? Why else would I be writing a review of his big budget, unabashedly self-glorifying promotional film? But no amount of overexposure could stop Get Rich from making those nine bullet holes the central plot point of an entire movie—that and a completely unfathomable love story, some dabbling in "the game" (the concept, not the rapper), and a questionable sense of historical accuracy (apparently, crack hit New York sometime in the early '90s). Ironically, it's precisely his harder-than-thou façade that ultimately sinks Get Rich so profoundly; 50 couldn't possibly risk his ridiculous self-mythology with any touch of vulnerability—the only thing that really saved Marshall "Mom's Spaghetti" Mathers' similarly styled semi-biopic. It's the same reason that 50's one-note musical persona is so especially grating these days—even when dude's tender thuggin', he looks like he's about to kill something. (Zac Pennington) Regal Cinemas, etc.
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. George Clooney's excellent film follows Murrow as CBS airs his exposés on McCarthy's rampageous anti-communist crusade. As a director, 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.
The Greatest Game Ever Played
During a dry two hours, Francis Ouimet (Shia LeBeouf) rises up from his lower-class digs to defeat favored defending British golf champion Harry Vardon (Stephen Dillane). The film's plagued with stiff acting, too many golf montage scenes, and, thanks to director Bill Paxton (yep, that Bill Paxton) snazzy special effects (yep, special golf effects). They fall flat-unless, of course, you enjoy seeing CG golf balls constantly flying at your face, in which case this is definitely your movie. I, on the other hand, would rather watch bare breasts fly at my face in Caddyshack. (Mike Filtz) Edgefield
Green Street Hooligans
Hopefully Hooligans isn't the realistic portrayal of soccer hooliganism it aims to be—because if it is, hooligans are a bunch of causeless, destructive fucking asshats. Their feuds and vengeances have only an incidental relationship to the actual sport—here it's all about violence, which in this movie is pretty incredible, though the accompanying speedy techno music and hyper-stylized cinematography feels a little insulting, as if the film is trying to goad you into fantasizing that you too could be as cool as... a bunch of asshats. That being said, as far as an engaging film, Hooligans is utterly riveting, climaxing in an excruciating, mega-violent clusterfuck. (Marjorie Skinner) Hollywood Theatre
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
Henri Langlois: Phantom of the Cinémathèque
In the infancy of the film world and cinema culture, movies were not upheld as works of art worth preserving. Instead, they were ephemeral bits of information-screened briefly, then discarded to the dustbin of history. Then in 1936, Henri Langlois, who represented everything brilliant and bohemian about Paris between the wars, founded the Cinémathèque Française, a museum and theater devoted to film. When the Nazis roared through Paris, Langlois hid his archive from the Germans, and just a decade or two later, young filmmakers like Godard and Truffaut seized upon the Cinémathèque as an invaluable education in filmmaking. Jacques Richard's documentary, clocking in at over two hours, is a passionate tribute to Langlois, which is a must-see for true film buffs. (Or for anybody who saw The Dreamers and wondered why all the proto-hippies started rioting when the French Minister of Culture tried to shut the Cinémathèque down.) (Chas Bowie) Guild, Whitsell Auditorium
A History of Violence
David Cronenberg's adaptation of John Wagner and Vince Locke's graphic novel (with a screenplay by Josh Olson) examines physical violence alongside a sneakier sort—that of almost-forgotten secrets and the easy comfort of lying. Small town diner owner Tom Stall's (Viggo Mortensen) life is unbelievably idyllic, until two desperate criminals attempt to rob Tom's diner—and, in a series of movements as efficient as they are brutal, Tom kills them as if he's been killing people his whole life. The moral questions here are secondary to the creepy story, which patiently unfolds with bursts of wince-inducing violence, held together with solid performances. It's Cronenberg, so there are plenty of stilted, awkward moments—but the plot's momentum makes up for them, and while the film loses some of its everyday believability as it progresses, it replaces it with tough questions that are fascinating to watch play out. (Erik Henriksen) Laurelhurst, Kennedy School, Mission Theater
Based on Portlander Anthony Swofford's experience in Desert Storm v. 1.0, director Sam Mendes' Gulf War flick is a highly worthy, if flawed, addition to the war film genre. (Chas Bowie) Regal Cinemas, etc.
His name makes him sound like he's a spokesman for an allergy medicine, but Johnny Allegro's (George Raft) actually a former gangster who works for the feds—until his cover is blown. From 1949, and directed by Ted Tetzlaff. Guild
Julien is a schizophrenic, but he's not a "movie schizophrenic." There are no miracle cures or tidy moral uplifts in store for him, only some bright moments. Harmony Korine's Julien Donkey-Boy is filled with scenes and images colliding in ways you have never seen before. Though it has influences—Korine explicitly acknowledges a profound one by casting Werner Herzog as Julien's tyrannical father—it has no major precedents. The compassionately unflinching portrait of mental illness is matched by Korine's terrified understanding of how this supremely dysfunctional family struggles on as best they can (including Chloë Sevigny, wispy but resilient, as a pregnant sister, and Evan Neumann as a would-be wrestler, mercilessly bullied by Dad to "be a man"). After seeing Gummo, I referred to Korine as one of our very best young directors; now that's looking like a huge understatement. (Bruce Reid) Fifth Avenue Cinemas
A hilarious tale of opposites uniting in friendship as only the Japanese could portray it: with decadent eye candy and wacky dark humor. (Christine S. Blystone) Clinton Street Theater
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Shane Black's (the writer of Lethal Weapon) violent and funny tip o' the hat to the pulp fiction genre. Unfortunately, the one talent Black lacks is subtlety. His writing is perhaps more clever and precocious than ever, and the acting by all involved—especially Robert Downey Jr.—is spot on. But there's not an ounce of heart underneath, and the film has the overriding feel of watching a very funny meth addict tweak out. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Cinetopia, Fox Tower 10
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.
Lewis & Clark Film Festival
Hey history nerds! As if you don't get enough about how damn great Lewis & Clark were crammed down your throat already, now there's a film fest all about 'em—with "films, presentations, and documentaries about the explorers and their Corps of Discovery." "Why, that sounds more boring than a Friday night spent watching nothing but PBS!" you say. But does PBS have "a specially brewed York Stout" to wash down that dry Pacific Northwest history? Nope. They don't. This film fest, on the other hand, does! Ah, whatever. It'll still be boring. Kennedy School
Margaret Mead: A Portrait by a Friend
Jean Rouch's half-hour-long look at anthropologist and filmmaker Margaret Mead. Followed by Rouch's feature Jaguar. Guild
A fantasy can be a lot of things, but dull shouldn't be one of them. (Andrew Wright) Hollywood Theatre
Josey (a dirt-smeared Charlize Theron) flees her home and moves in with her parents. Getting a job of her own in a Minnesota coal mine rife with harassment and sexism, Theron rarely makes it through a scene without her eyes filling with bravely suppressed tears, and the film keeps flashing forward to the courtroom drama that will bring her vindication. Unfortunately, the film blows its trial-by-jury conceit early, with a truly climactic showdown in the miners' union hall. The actual court dramatization (involving wanton witness badgering and spectators rising in unison) is melodramatic and contrived. (Annie Wagner) Westgate
The Official Story
1985's drama about mothers whose activist children were kidnapped/tortured/killed by the Argentinean government. Should be fun! PSU Smith Memorial Student Union
Or (My Treasure)
See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre
Paradise Now's mere premise—the story of two Palestinian men who have been selected for a suicide-bombing mission—raises both expectations and eyebrows by taking on an incredibly tense, controversial subject from a frightening perspective. Despite its merits, Paradise Now shockingly manages to keep the tension of its story subdued—what should be an intense thriller is permeated by a sense of calm. Nonetheless, the film is thought provoking and relevant, and for those reasons alone, is imminently worthwhile. (Marjorie Skinner) Fox Tower 10
Pride & Prejudice
The umpteenth retelling of Pride & Prejudice remains faithful to the plot, if not entirely to the spirit, of Jane Austen's late 18th century social satire. The real star here is, of course, Elizabeth (Keira Knightley), a woman so uncorrupted by her contemporaries' restrictive ideas of what a woman should be that she seems utterly familiar and modern. Yet this spirited, independent, and intelligent woman, like the author who penned her, is 200 years our senior. Director Joe Wright's greatest accomplishment may have been in showing why this old lady—or both of them, actually—are well worth a respectful visit. (Kip Berman) Cinetopia, Fox Tower 10, Lloyd Cinemas, City Center 12, Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing
Prime begins with counselor Lisa Metzger (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.
See review this issue. Clinton Street Theater
Saw II is pretty much the stupid version of Seven and the stupider version of Saw. (Katie Shimer) Regal Cinemas, etc.
The sci-fi western Firefly was something exceedingly rare, not only for TV, but for any medium: a strikingly imagined, perfectly executed example of both expression and entertainment. So, of course, it was cancelled almost as soon as it began, with Fox broadcasting only 11 episodes. But following massive DVD sales and an unprecedentedly devoted fan base, Universal Pictures has resurrected Firefly—well, sort of—via Serenity. Here, the personable characters are back, and true, and portrayed, across the board, by the same talented actors; the action is bigger and better; the scope is larger; the dialogue alternately crackles and sings; and the themes hit harder (including writer/director Joss Whedon's favorites: independence, feminism, existentialism, and self-realization). In short, Serenity's as good as anyone could have hoped it to be, which is saying quite a bit. (Erik Henriksen) Lloyd Mall, Westgate
A sweet and tender love story that eschews irony and sarcasm as well as treacly Hollywood sentimentality. (Chas Bowie) Regal Cinemas, etc.
The Squid and the Whale
An insightful, affecting, and darkly funny film that's rooted in the human element, in the simple recounting, with no judgments and no clichés, of a family falling apart. (Erik Henriksen) Fox Tower 10
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre
Vulnerability and private insecurities are at the heart of Mike Mills' touching and funny Thumbsucker, which was shot in the suburbs of SW Portland. Justin Cobb (Lou Taylor Pucci) is a 17-year-old whose self-esteem and social development is stunted by the fact that he steals away into bathroom stalls and shuts himself in his bedroom to nurse his thumb. His new-age orthodontist, brilliantly played by Keanu Reeves (man, I never thought I'd type those five words), tries hypnosis and positive visualization to help Justin kick his habit, but to no avail. At home, the Cobb family is on shaky legs: Vincent D'Onofrio makes an excellent turn as Justin's father, a football player who never made the big leagues, while his mom (Tilda Swinton) occupies herself trying to win a dream date with a cheesy TV star (Benjamin Bratt). When the family decides to put Justin on Ritalin, he transforms almost overnight from someone who can barely put a sentence together to the egomaniacal, self-possessed star of the school debate team. (Chas Bowie) Laurelhurst
To the Ends of the Earth
1948's whodunit revolves around an American government agent who's trying to uncover a drug smuggling operation in China. I really wanted to like this movie because of its old-timey quirks and charm, but the plot just moved too fucking slow to keep my attention. Too bad. (Christine S. Blystone) Guild
Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price
See review this issue. Fifth Avenue Cinemas
Walk the Line
See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Here we have Wallace, a cheese-loving inventor, and his loyal dog, Gromit; for work, the two humanely capture the rabbits that eat up their town's gardens—until a "were-rabbit" shows up to terrorize the town's produce. As amusing as the plot for Nick Park and Steve Box's claymation film can be, the focus here is firmly on the characters; just as in his shorts, Park infuses his plasticine creations with more character, love, and humor than most live-action films (or even most live-action people). (Erik Henriksen) Lloyd Mall, Tigard Cinemas, Movies on TV, Westgate, Broadway Metroplex
The Weather Man
A surprisingly intelligent and funny examination of self-loathing, familial relationships, and unaccomplished goals. (Erik Henriksen) Lloyd Mall
It all started because my big brother was being a dick and locked me in the basement. While I was down there I found this awesome game about rocket ships and shit and so I took it upstairs to play it. I mean, I'm eight, I like that sorta shit. Anyways, all of a sudden—BOOM! POW! These meteors started falling outta the sky and totally fucked up our house! Then my brother and I looked out the window and we were totally FLOATING IN SPACE! So my brother and I went and played the game some more and my brother took his turn and a giant robot started chasing him with hands made of saws! He was running through the house hollering "EEEEEE!" like a dumb girl. It was pretty funny even though he coulda died. Then we rescued this astronaut and he helped us, and then my sister totally fell in love with my brother and it was soooo gross. (Megan Seling) Regal Cinemas, etc.