This comedy about a high school kid who fails to get into college and then starts a fake one to fool his overzealous parents not only gets a D-minus for plot, but stars no known actors. So I expected it to be awful. But it's not! True, as flicks about high-school-burnouts-with-romantic-souls go, Accepted is no Ferris Bueller, nor is it as deft at college craziness as Old School. But hey, it's hot outside. You could do worse. (Matt Davis) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Thought Martin Scorsese never made a movie with Cheech and Chong? Wrong! Scorsese's 1985 film follows Paul (Griffin Dunne) as he stumbles through a weird night in NYC. And yes, Cheech and Chong are really in it. Clinton Street Theater
Humanized cows do NOT make good cartoon characters. You can't stand a cow up on its hind legs and make it talk and dance around with its bright pink phallic udder swinging everywhere! That's not cute and goofy! These cartoon cows don't even have buttholes drawn onto them, yet we get to watch their perverse udders just flap around in the wind the whole fucking movie? Uh, ew! There's also a creepy coyote in this movie that, when threatening the hens in the hen house, turns it into this weirdly sexual situation and like, starts talking all deep and weird while stroking the chickens and shit. Kids probably won't pick up on it (they're sorta dumb), but I totally noticed and it made me uncomfortable. But if you're into that sorta thing—you know, bestiality—than Barnyard is the perfect movie for you! (Megan Seling) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Be with Me
Eric Khoo's "biography-drama" that combines three fictional stories to tell the true story of a deaf and blind woman. Whitsell Auditorium
See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
The Best of Portland's 48-Hour Film Project
Twelve of the best films created during the 2006 48-Hour Film Project, in which local filmmakers only had two days to create lasting works of cinematic art. Hollywood Theatre
I'll never forget the day my life changed forever—the day my 16-year-old self first watched Clerks with my high-school best friend, Amber. For the rest of the year, shouts of "Oooooh! Navy Seals!" and "Hey, try not to suck any dick on the way through the parking lot!" continuously rang throughout the commons area. (Christine S. Blystone) Bagdad Theater
Clerks II is old-school Kevin Smith. It wipes away the memories of his later films; it reminds viewers why he was so heralded and great and hilarious in the first place. In other words: The smart, fresh, funny, crude, and well-written Clerks II is the best and funniest film Smith's made since the first Clerks. (Erik Henriksen) Academy Theater, Kennedy School, Mission Theater, Laurelhurst
In the first half of The Descent, writer/director Neil Marshall threatens to drown you in a convoluted psychological tale of transcendence—but you'll be happy to know the film later incorporates practically any and all horrors that could be lurking in a cave hundreds of feet below the surface. (Jenna Roadman) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Seven short docs by Portland teenagers, presented by Film Action Oregon. Hollywood Theatre
Escape to Canada
A documentary about the legalization of gay marriage in Canada, and the country's brief decriminalization of marijuana in 2003. Cue shot-upon-shot of same-sex kissing and people smoking joints in public, with the odd Religious Right nutcase denouncing it all for good measure. Attempting to tackle nationalism, the American Right, liberalism, drugs, and the legislation of sexuality in 81 minutes is a tough order for anybody—and director Albert Nerenberg falls flat on his face trying to do it. (Matt Davis) Clinton Street Theater
RIP, River Phoenix. Laurelhurst
The Great Yokai War
If I were a kid, I would be terrified. The prolific/talented/predictably unpredictable Takashi Miike's latest is ostensibly a kids' fantasy film, but Jesus Christ—even by Miike's fairly insane standards, this is some weird-ass shit. It's easiest to split it up into all the bits of cultural detritus that Miike gathers here and then vomits up: Hayao Miyazaki, The Wizard of Oz, Labyrinth/The Dark Crystal, Looney Tunes, Tim Burton, Tolkien, Rowling, Spielberg, The Terminator, Ghostbusters II, Godzilla, Saturday morning cartoons/commercials, plenty of puppetry and CG and makeup, and, oh yeah, demonic, transforming motorcycles. Also: hamsters. Plot-wise, The Great Yokai War is about a whiny little kid who somehow gets superpowers and has to fight with a bunch of Muppets against evil technology, but with Miike's tone at once epic and hyperactive, everything here is so intentionally mish-mashed that it's impossible to keep much interest—in creating a world that's so weird, creepy, and untethered, it's impossible for the viewer feel any connection whatsoever. But as crazy eye-candy goes—or if you're just in the mood for some batshit crazy juvenile fantasy or need a Miike fix—Yokai probably won't disappoint. (Erik Henriksen) Hollywood Theatre
How to Eat Fried Worms
See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
See review this issue. Century Eastport 16,Lloyd Cinemas
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
"Okey dokey, Dr. Jones! Hold on to your potatoes!" Pix Patisserie (North)
See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
IT (Independent Tuesdays)
Homemade film and video! Acme
See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre
Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man
A superfluous big-screen tribute to the enigmatic croaker that vacillates between compelling Cohen interviews (the good) banal, somehow self-congratulatory musings from Bono (the bad) and live performances from a well-meaning, if questionably executed, 2005 Australian tribute concert (the unnecessary). These disparate elements are given thread by first-time director Lian Lunson's awkwardly heavy-handed editing choices, and conclude in a strangely anticlimactic (and clearly lip-synched) studio performance featuring Cohen backed by the members of U2. (An aside: How fucking arrogant does a person have to be to wear sunglasses when you're backing Leonard Cohen? Answer: Bono arrogant.) (Zac Pennington) Laurelhurst
Little Miss Sunshine
No, Little Miss Sunshine—a dark comedy about a family road tripping from New Mexico to California in a busted-up Volkswagen van, and a film that got a lot of people talking at Sundance—isn't quite deserving of all its ecstatic buzz. But yes, still: Once you get past all the impossible hype, Sunshine is still pretty great, with clever humor, a tone of whimsical melancholy, and great performances, especially from Steve Carell and Alan Arkin. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Childhood friends Deco (Lázaro Ramos) and Naldinho (Wagner Moura) own a boat; Karinna (Alice Braga) puts out for both men in exchange for a quick boat ride. But what starts out simply—a business decision, a fuck or two—quickly grows complicated, and soon the three find themselves in a complex love triangle. But once one's past the film's gorgeous cinematography and searing performances, all the erotic, visceral, and visual thrills boil down to... well, not much. All that Lower City ultimately says is this: Life is hard, and love is harder. Which is a moral that you probably don't need to hear again, even if a film as sexy and striking as this one is telling it to you. (Erik Henriksen) Hollywood Theatre
This movie wasn't screened for critics, but here's what we know: The Duff sisters (you know, Hilary and... that other one) star in this oh-so-original story about two heiresses who are stripped of their fortunes and have to actually work to buy their Juicy tracksuits. Hey, wait a sec—is this supposed to be a jab at the Hilton sisters? They have more money than those Duff girls could ever dream of! They shit gold, while the Duffs can only caca out twenties! (Kaitlyn Burch) Regal Cinemas, etc.
More like Miami NICE! (Adam Gnade and Erik Henriksen) Lloyd Mall
So there's this woman and her husband and they build a house, but then she dies in the heart of it so the house is scary and it has a heart, and a chimney with smoke that comes out of it, and a big mouth. It has legs and arms and walks around, and these kids go in with a key but then it's pretty scary. Yeah, I liked this movie! You should go see it! But it was pretty scary. I had to hold my dad's hand for a lot of it. (Kayla, the Mercury's resident six-year-old) Lloyd Mall, 99W Drive-In, Movies on TV
Neighbor No. 13
(More) Japanese horror. Not screened for critics. Hollywood Theatre
See review this issue. Cinema 21
The Photographer, His Wife, Her Lover
O. Winston Link was one of the great, underappreciated geniuses of 20th Century photography, and he spent the final years of his life literally chained in his own basement, forced to create art that his wife sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars (which she then pocketed). In The Photographer, His Wife, Her Lover, director Paul Yule unfolds the bizarre, sensational final chapter in Link's life with a wealth of great interviews and a workmanlike storytelling instinct. Link spent most of his life in relative obscurity until his mid-70s, when he married Conchita, a worldly, statuesque woman 20 years his junior. After their wedding, Conchita took over Link's business affairs, forbade him from using the phone, sold his artwork and cashed the checks for herself, intercepted all of his mail, wouldn't let him see his family, and kept him prisoner in the basement, where he was forced to make art for her to sell. The story contains tons of delicious, evil twists that will fascinate even those with no particular interest in Link's artwork. (There are affairs, phony police reports, eBay scams, and hidden loot.) I've watched an inordinate number of documentaries about artists in my day, but none have been nearly so riveting as this one. (Chas Bowie) Whitsell Auditorium
The whole Japanese horror film vibe has pretty much been absorbed by Hollywood by now, with chalk-white kids and malevolent appliances spilling out of all corners of the frame, and onto the resume of seemingly every young WB and UPN starlet in the process. Director Kiyoshi Kurosawa's 2001 masterpiece Kairo, however, deals with concepts that are more resistant to translation than your average Ring or Grudge, bypassing the standard stock hauntings for an abstract vision of techno-dread. But whereas the specters in Kairo were morose, even pathetic figures, causing mayhem almost as a byproduct, those of the Wes Craven-adapted remake, Pulse, are just the same old shrieking boogeymen, popping out of closets and under beds at a moment's notice, scaring—can you guess?—UPN starlet Kristin Bell. As the volume goes up, any sense of pins and needles fades out. (Andrew Wright) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Snakes on a Plane
O, those halcyon days when I first heard the glorious premise for Snakes on a Plane! How delightful! How fun! Samuel L. Jackson? Fighting snakes? On a plane? O! And then everybody ruined it: A billion blog entries, a thousand fake trailers, countless unfunny shirts sold on CafePress.com. Those golden days darkened, Snakes on a Plane's sweet promise tainted by its own premature popularity. I will freely admit it: I thought Snakes had been ruined. But I'm sorry I doubted you, Snakes on a Plane. You live up to your title, and I can think of no higher praise. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
The story is classic: Tyler (Channing Tatum) is a roughish foster kid who steals cars and gets in fights, but who mostly is just a sweet, cute guy who's good with children, plus is a really killer street dancer. (He's a hell of a lot more modern jazz than krump, but go with it.) For slap-dash and expediently deployed reasons, he ends up in a dance studio with Nora (Jenna Dewan), a serious dance student at the prestigious Maryland School of the Arts. Rousing hybridizations of formally trained skills and raw talent ensue, as does romance, a couple of unobtrusively inserted life lessons, some cute clothes and fresh, pretty faces, and, of course, some decent dancing. Step Up doesn't fart around trying to be something it isn't, but it sticks the finish by being exemplary as what it's supposed to be—Fame-lite. (Marjorie Skinner) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Strangers with Candy
For those just joining us, Strangers was a wickedly funny show that ran on Comedy Central for three seasons. It featured the talents of David Sedaris' funnier sister, Amy, as ex-crack whore Jerri Blank who returns after a stint in prison to finish high school. A clear parody of the ABC After-School Specials, Strangers put a hilarious spin on such heavy teen issues as drug abuse, body image, and mental retardation. Though barely watched by mainstream America, Strangers was an absolute hit on the fringe, with pickle-jar tight direction and an average of three laugh-out-loud jokes per minute. Which makes it really uncomfortable for me to relay the news that the Strangers with Candy movie... well... kind of sucks. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Laurelhurst, Academy Theater
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Considering that Anchorman is probably the best movie Will Ferrell will ever make, comparing Talladega Nights to it is kind of unfair—but also inevitable. Ferrell's Ricky Bobby is a borderline retarded, all-American racer who drives a Wonder Bread-branded car and serves as a hero to mouth-breathing NASCAR fans everywhere. Until, that is, a nemesis shows up: the all-French racer Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen). Disappointingly, Ferrell just phones it in here—it's the film's two supporting characters who make Talladega so entertaining. Da Ali G Show's brilliant Cohen is hilarious as the crêpe-loving Girard, and he's shown up only by the great John C. Reilly, who giddily plays Ricky Bobby's dumb, loyal friend Cal. Whenever Reilly and Cohen are on screen, Talladega Nights is a blast—fast, goofy, unpredictable, and willing to go all-out for laughs. You know—sort of like Anchorman. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Thank You For Smoking
Smoking's great premise has the delightfully unscrupulous Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart)—a spin doctor for Big Tobacco—sparring and sneaking his way through activists and accusations. But like all wannabe cynics, director Jason Reitman can't maintain a vicious tone for long—midway through, Smoking takes a turn for the banal, the razor-sharp satire of the first 45 minutes giving way to a more scattershot type of comedy. Sure, this neutering of Smoking's amorality is better for its characters' consciences and lungs, but it kills Smoking's smart fun faster than a three-pack-a-day habit. (Erik Henriksen) Laurelhurst, Kennedy School, St. Johns Pub
Two Films by Victor Elmanov
Russian filmmaker Victor Elmanov presents two documentaries—one that examines "major documentary film festivals in Russia," and another that "follows a soldier during the first Chechen war in his search for love and meaning." Via an interpreter, Elmanov will discuss the films afterward. Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center
There's no other way to say it: Crossword fanatics are some of the biggest nerds to ever walk the Earth. Which makes them the perfect subjects for a documentary. And that documentary is Wordplay, a shockingly entertaining film about the phenomenon of crossword obsession—featuring celebrities, puzzle writers, and world champions. (Scott Moore) Laurelhurst, Academy Theater
World Trade Center
Whoa, wait a minute—you must have me confused with the old Oliver Stone! The one who used to like to push buttons and explore ideas? That's not me any more! No, what I'm doing with World Trade Center is making a happy 9/11 movie—no one wants to be depressed at the movies anymore! World Trade Center starts with the Twin Towers falling... and ends with a picnic! (Oliver Stone) Regal Cinemas, etc.