Akeelah and the Bee
Akeelah and the Bee is the first Hollywood film (surely there are more coming) to get a huge push from a new entertainment arm of Starbucks, so it should come as no surprise that the multinational corporation that produces creamy, inspirational, supposedly virtuous drinks has chosen to back this creamy, inspirational, supposedly virtuous movie. It is so crammed with sticky-sweet virtue that the stuff is practically coming out through the straw hole and sliding down the side. (Christopher Frizzelle) Regal Cinemas, etc.
An American Haunting
Surprise, surprise. A crappy looking horror movie isn't screened for critics. Regal Cinemas, etc.
Art School Confidential
See review this issue. (Chas Bowie) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Before the Fall
Before the Fall takes a look at elite military training schools called Napolas in Nazi Germany during Hitler's reign. The story follows Friedrich (Max Riemelt), a poor teenager who loves boxing. He is discovered by a talent scout for one of these Napolas and leaves his family behind for what he thinks is a better opportunity in life. Brainwashed by the "no pity" military training, he stays loyal to the Nazis until his best friend Albrecht (Tom Schilling), the son of a local Nazi governor, helps him see the evil cruelty of the Third Reich. Brilliant and not cheesy in the slightest, this film illustrates in detail not only the tragedy of World War II, but the tragedy of the idea of war and brutal military training that young people go through all the time. I bawled my eyes out no less than a half a dozen times throughout the film. When it is over, you will feel like you got knocked out by little Freidrich in the ring. (Christine S. Blystone) Hollywood Theatre
Burn to Shine
See Music, pg. 19. Acme
An experimental documentary about a mile-long strip of land in Georgia, told with oral histories, maps, home movies, satellite imagery, and archival film footage. PNCA, Room 92
Caché hinges on the idea that just underneath society, and deep within the lives of normal people, all sorts of vile and unspeakable things lurk in wait. In fact, the film's almost too nuanced to be the thriller it purports to be—in addition to the marital drama, it touches on class, voyeurism, childrearing, and some pretty heavy race-related subtext. Nope, not a hardcore thriller. But totally worth watching all the same. (Alison Hallett) Laurelhurst, Academy Theater
Clearcut: The Story of Philomath, Oregon
In a nearly unprecedented feat of generosity, logging tycoon Rex Clemens set up the Clemens Foundation in 1959, which ensured that every (yes, every) high school graduate from his hometown of Philomath, OR, would have their college tuition paid for, should they go down that path. Director Peter Richardson's first full-length documentary, Clearcut, is about those now in charge of that Clemens Foundation (Rex died in the '80s), a group of Bible-thumping bigots, who waged war in the late '80s against a liberal, "politically correct" school superintendent, threatening to pull the scholarships if he wasn't fired. Richardson hails from Philomath, and his love for his hometown is evident in Clearcut, an elegant, balanced little film that lets both sides of the issue speak their piece. Oddly, the star of the show winds up being Clemens Foundation spokesperson Steve Lowther, a terrifyingly backwards-thinking, right-wing redneck who also happens to be, like certain people in unfortunately high levels of political office, almost hypnotically charismatic. (Justin Sanders) Clinton Street Theater
CSA: The Confederate States of America
It's a scenario that's too disturbing to think about, but what if the south had won the Civil War? That's the premise this surprisingly effective little film posits, and the answers are horrifying. Shot like a PBS or History Channel special, CSA shows an alternate American present, where African Americans are still held as slaves and abolitionists are treated as enemies to freedom—the production even includes commercial breaks for products like Darkie Toothpaste and Sambo Motor Oil, which have actually been available in the past century. CSA is darkly funny, uncomfortable, and infuriating all at once—meaning I recommend it wholeheartedly. (Scott Moore) Hollywood Theatre
The Devil and Daniel Johnston
See review this issue. Cinema 21
Don't Come Knocking
Sam Shepard plays Howard Spence, a washed-up Western star who spent the better part of his life knocking back booze, pills, women, and handcuffs. One day on the set of a cheesy, generic Western, Howard takes off into the sunset to make peace with his personal history—and an odd, starchy detective (Tim Roth) hired by the film company hunts Howard down in the dusty streets of Nevada and Montana. While not a flawless movie, you'd be hard-pressed this month to find another that's this intelligent, cool, and fun. (Chas Bowie) Laurelhurst
The Fallen Idol
Although director Carol Reed would top The Fallen Idol a year later with his cunning The Third Man, here he demonstrates that he's unparalleled at adapting Graham Greene stories. In Idol (1948), a 10-year-old ambassador's child believes he witnesses his favorite butler murder his wife—or at least he talks himself into believing so. A commentary on the adult world as seen by a child, The Fallen Idol is the more Hitchcockian—and, while it's not in the least creepy, the film is undoubtedly absorbing. (Will Gardner) Cinema 21
Far Side of the Moon
The creator of Cirque du Soleil's Ka, director Robert Lepage has been described as a "French-Canadian Woody Allen." Far Side of the Moon also features a gay brother, Russian dialogue, and "a hilarious look at the effects of gravity." What more do you need to know? Whitsell Auditorium
Goal! The Dream Begins
Just the name alone (Goal!) should be a big enough tip-off that this film is full of more clichés than stitches on a soccer ball. Let's see: Soccer is Santiago Munez, a working-class Mexican-American's "only ticket" out of the LA slums. He must "overcome extraordinary odds" on this "incredible journey." (In case you don't understand the film's basic premise the first time, it is repeated generously throughout.) Okay, fine—the film is slick and beautiful, and has some exciting close-ups of feet and heads hitting balls. But why is it that every sports movie must begin and end with a cliché? The producers are cocky enough about its success, though, that they already have a sequel filmed and yet another on the way! (Phil Busse) Regal Cinemas, etc.
The story of 14-year-old Hayley (Ellen Page) and 32-year-old perv Jeff (Patrick Wilson), Hard Candy takes enough twists and turns that the audience can't help but squirm—and not necessarily for the reasons one would think. (Erik Henriksen) Fox Tower 10
Hey, Jimmy Buffett! What the fuck's up, man? First you swear off the booze and now you're making hokey, PC kids' movies? This from the guy that sang the line "Why don't we get drunk and screw"? The guy that used to hang out with Hunter S. Thompson?! And now we have Hoot, a film you produced, soundtracked, and acted in, the story of a kid from outta town who tries to save some endangered owls and who—who cares. The only thing you need to know about this movie is it's rated PG-13 for "mild bullying." (Adam Gnade) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Just My Luck
Lindsay Lohan's latest, which wasn't screened for us. I can see two good things about the movie anyway, though, and both can be found by Googling "Lindsay Lohan + boobs." Ka-ZING! (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
The awesome Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Lola, a brassy transvestite who teams up with shoemaker Charlie Price (Joel Edgerton) to save a small English shoe company—by creating a line of boots that have transvestite-y style but are strong enough to support a man's weight. There's a whole lot of safely risqué, heartwarming, Full Monty-esque stuff going on here, with uptight, curmudgeonly Brits (including Shaun of the Dead's Nick Frost) having to get used to the idea of working with a transvestite. It's all pretty hackneyed and corny (even though it's ostensibly based on a true story, it all feels painstakingly contrived), but the performances of Ejiofor and Edgerton save it. Ejiofor's essentially playing two characters here—the flamboyant, free-spirited Lola, and Lola's counterpart, the more traditionally male Simon, who's emotionally scarred and far more fragile—and he's sensitive, nuanced, and incredibly likeable at both; never do either Lola or Simon feel like the clichés they're written as. Edgerton, meanwhile, can't help but have the show stolen from him (he's acting against a brassy transvestite, after all), but he holds things down amicably and creates enough of an emotional constant to make Kinky Boots, for all its falsely "edgy" topics, moderately involving and rewarding. (Erik Henriksen) Fox Tower 10
This lively look at cult films and midnight movies features interviews with John Waters, David Lynch, and George Romero. And it plays at 7 pm. Guild
Mission: Impossible III
Okay, so this is what a summer blockbuster is supposed to be like. Loud and big and fun and cool, its mega-budget straining to contain its action, its effects, its stars, all of which are there for a singular purpose: to entertain. This is what summertime movies should be: made up of this speaker-straining, eye-widening, childish delight, tinged with that too-rare sensation of awe. The ideal summer blockbuster boils down to fun—the sort of fun you're going to have whether you want to or not, even if you think you're too hip or smart or cultured for something this big and loud and show-offy. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
From Night Watch's opening battle, which could be mistaken for a scene in The Two Towers, to the familial plot twists and the inner good versus evil turmoil of the Star Wars saga, this Russian fantasy action film is full of familiar themes—but it presents them in an unmistakably post-Communist Russian light. But best of all, the movie actually has a soul—it's refreshing to see an effects-driven movie that has moments of humor as well as compelling characters. (Steven Lankenau) Laurelhurst
The Notorious Bettie Page
Shot almost entirely in black and white, this biopic—starring Gretchen Mol as Bettie Page—lets you tag along with the infamous pin-up girl as she ventures from Nashville, Tennessee to New York City, where she begins her modeling career in the 1950s. Though the film portrays Page as a naïve girl who didn't quite understand what her racy bondage poses really meant (she thought she was just having fun in costumes, the film argues), it's still an engaging peek into the life of a pop culture icon. (Amy Jenniges) Cinema 21
On a Clear Day
There's a scene in the Scottish film On a Clear Day in which Frank Redmond, the rugged hero, questions his decision to swim the English Channel. His family doesn't understand, and the Channel is pretty wide, and he's feeling discouraged. He's at swim practice, moping, when he sees a little retarded kid swim across the pool, all by himself. And Frank thinks, "Hey. If the retarded kid can swim across the pool, then by god, I can swim across the Channel!" So he does. As uplifting and inspirational as the film may be, they cross the line with the retarded kid. It's time to "just say no" to uplifting, inspirational movies out of the UK—before things really get out of hand. (Alison Hallett) Mission Theater
See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
Despite some less-than-perfect CGI moments, the visuals of The Promise are its strong suit. But as the visual excitement of the film begins to peter out, it becomes clear that the characters and story—while theoretically full of enchantment—are, in truth, hollow. (Marjorie Skinner) Fox Tower 10
Regular or Super: Views on Mies Van Der Rohe
A look at one of the most important and influential architects of the 20th century. Guild
The Sci-Fi Boys
Grown-up nerds like Peter Jackson and John Landis talk about what it was like to be youthful nerds, and the nerdy movies that impacted their nerdy careers. Bagdad Theater
Apparently, this thriller starring Michael Douglas, Kiefer Sutherland, and Eva Longoria was screened only for "daily press"—e.g. The Oregonian. Us lowly weekly papers weren't even told about the screening. What the fuck's up with that, huh? Go to hell, Twentieth Century Fox. Regal Cinemas, etc.
What gives, Hollywood execs? Why keep bludgeoning us with this kind of shit? Oh yeah, I forgot: You're a bunch of greedy assholes. (Justin Sanders) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Sir! No Sir!
A well-timed documentary about dissention among the ranks of soldiers during the Vietnam War. Fox Tower 10
Let me disabuse all of you of any inclination you might have to see the teen gymnast flick Stick It right now. (a) If you're a teen gymnast wannabe, you need to think about a career change pronto, before that scary Russian coach traumatizes you so much that in adulthood you're only performing on the dreaded single, vertical pole. (b) If you simply love movies like Bring It On and Mean Girls, you, too, should sit this one out, because Stick It is truly, deeply awful. This brings us to the final category, (c) the pervs. I hate to say it, fellas, but these chicks exercise their upper bodies so much that they have little girl heads on Rambo bodies. (Chas Bowie) Regal Cinemas, etc.
If every work of art is an emotional manipulation (one that we invite in willingly, hoping to be changed for the better, to have our view of life expanded, or to have our imagination stretched), then United 93, which divides its time between the 9/11 flight that crashed near Shanksville, PA and the air traffic control workers in New York and Boston—is the dirty player at the party—the one who forgoes the rules of engagement, courtesy, or boundaries. Shot with a handheld immediacy, United 93 succeeds at every goal director Paul Greengrass sets out to accomplish—but he doesn't have any thesis or point, besides "Watch this. Don't look away. Don't blink." The biggest question, though, is this: Why do we collectively invite this storyteller into our homes? (Chas Bowie) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Set in 1930s India, Water is a gentle but effective indictment of the ancient Hindu belief that a widow is responsible for the death of her husband. One of the limited and unsavory options for these women is to have their heads shaved and to tuck themselves into a temple with other widows, where they live in poverty, surviving by begging and (less publicly) prostitution. Such is the fate of Chuyia (Sarala), who is nine and barely even registered the fact that she was married at all. She is befriended by Kalyani (played by the alarmingly gorgeous Lisa Ray), whose unfortunate role at the temple is as the house prostitute, for which she is allowed to keep her hair long, but is shunned by the other widows, who nonetheless survive in part by her earnings. With modern times and revolution beginning to make headway, the events that take place within the film are at times tragic and at other times progressive, but the clash of ideals is always presented tastefully and without blame. (Marjorie Skinner) Fox Tower 10
Disney's latest attempt at pretending they still make movies anyone gives a shit about. Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing, Tigard-Joy Theater