On a scale of one to 10 "Fuck you Roland Emmerich"s, with one "Fuck you Roland Emmerich" being Independence Day and 10 "Fuck you Roland Emmerich"s being Godzilla, Roland Emmerich's latest, 10,000 B.C., is an 84. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days
An inquisitive camera follows Otilia (Anamaria Marinca) through the dorms, hotels, and backstreets of Communist Romania in the 1980s as she conspires to arrange an illegal abortion for her friend Gabita (Laura Vasiliu). By the end of Four Months, Three Weeks, Two Days, friendship, family, and romantic love have all been quietly eviscerated. What's left is an ambiguous tribute to strength of character, a critical but not unsympathetic depiction of the lengths to which one young woman goes to help a friend. ALISON HALLETT Hollywood Theatre.
Robert Altman's 1978 black comedy teams up Mia Farrow and Desi Arnaz, Jr. Weird. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
The Bank Job
As the title suggests, The Bank Job is exactly that—a caper flick about a ragtag bunch of knuckleheads who knock off a London bank at the urging of a shady government organization. Turns out that a certain British royal was caught on film graphically partaking in a tropical ménage à trois (don't worry, it's not Prince Charles) and the photos are hidden away in a safety deposit box. Cue the scrappy, loveable gang of robbers who must retrieve the photos—while simultaneously outsmarting hoards of porno-making thugs, crooked cops, black nationalists, and the British government itself. If a solid bank robbery based on a true story isn't enough for you, the film is peppered with plenty of gratuitous nudity, torture, and more than a few sets of scary British chompers. EZRA ACE CARAEFF Various Theaters.
Brad Will: Another Night at the Barricades
A doc about American journalist Brad Will, who was killed in Oaxaca, Mexico in 2006. Liberty Hall.
Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson
The premise is there, and many of the jokes hit, but Robert Altman's Buffalo Bill and the Indians never quite leaves the ground. Paul Newman plays the role of the aging titular huckster with moustached relish, as Altman skewers showbiz, American history, and indulges in general buffoonery at every turn. Just as Scorsese's King of Comedy foreshadowed '90s pop postmodernism with scary precision, so too does Buffalo Bill feel entirely contemporary in its sly attention to artifice. (After the opening-credit cowboy and Indian massacre, the actors stand up, dust themselves off, and begin to move props off the lot.) But a story never really takes root—even for Altman's standards—so the whole thing feels like one long setup. CHAS BOWIE Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
This is vital, fascinating stuff: Pairing incredible, expertly edited footage from the riots of the 1968 Democratic National Convention with animated re-enactments of the chaotic trial that followed, director Brett Morgen creates an extraordinary film about our freedoms of speech and dissent. With voice acting from the likes of Hank Azaria, Jeffrey Wright, Nick Nolte, and Mark Ruffalo, plus an adrenalin-soaked soundtrack featuring Rage Against the Machine, Black Sabbath, and Eminem, Chicago 10 is an urgent, razor-sharp take on one of the most murky and important events in American history. Exhilarating, funny, and terrifying. ERIK HENRIKSEN Fox Tower 10.
See review. Fox Tower 10.
A post-apocalyptic horror film not screened for critics. Yep, this sounds like a good investment. Various Theaters.
See review. Various Theaters.
Years ago I reviewed Funny Games, an Austrian thriller written and directed by Michael Haneke. One of the most psychologically brutal films I've ever encountered, it presents an unflinchingly cruel challenge to the viewer to examine, and perhaps justify, the entertainment value of violence. I adore it. Now Haneke brings us Funny Games yet again, repackaged as an exact duplicate of the original film, with two key modifications made to specially appeal to American audiences: Naomi Watts, and the absence of subtitles. There's little reason to recommend this newer version over the older version, unless you're averse to reading. MARJORIE SKINNER Fox Tower 10.
A documentary about Portland's Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls—a musical finishing school that's less about keeping your ankles crossed and more about telling the world to suck it. Camp counselors like Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein and the Gossip's Beth Ditto teach the girls to scream, sweat, and, possibly, make wicked hash brownies. (Okay, calm down. Not really on the hash brownies.) By deconstructing the now-clichéd "girl power" idea—which has become wholly embarrassing over the years—and building it back up into something meaningful, Girls Rock! succeeds as both a documentary and entertainment. KIALA KAZEBEE Hollywood Theatre.
See review. Lloyd Center 10 Cinema.
Honor Roll: A Screening of Films by Scholarship Winners
A free screening of films by students from the Northwest Film Center's School of Film. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Horton Hears a Who!
Kids like ANYTHING. As proof I offer "green apple bubble gum tape." In fact, most kids would happily eat dog crap if you sprinkled a tablespoon of sugar on it. That's not to say, however, that Horton Hears a Who!—the latest animated feature from Blue Sky Studios (Ice Age), and based on the classic Dr. Seuss book—is sugar-sprinkled dog crap. It's more like green apple bubble gum tape... after a good chewing. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
Martin McDonagh's uneven but entertaining dark comedy follows two hit men (perfectly played by the often terrible Colin Farrell and the always excellent Brendan Gleeson) stranded in a tiny Belgian tourist town. Dealing with midgets, Euro trash, and a fair amount of blood, both men crack wise, get fucked up, and make increasingly poor decisions. Awkwardly teetering between melodrama and slapstick, In Bruges never finds its footing, and it all goes shamefully and irrevocably to shit in its final act (despite Ralph Fiennes' fantastic attempt at a last-minute save, playing Farrell and Gleeson's disgruntled boss). But up until then: great characters, and certainly a fun enough way to kill a few hours. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Judgment at Nuremberg
Stanley Kramer's 1961 classic about the 1948 trial of four Nazi judges. Featuring Spencer Tracy, Marlene Dietrich, and, yes, William Shatner. Laurelhurst.
Corn is everywhere, in absolutely everything. Don't believe me? Check the ingredients list on any random item in the grocery store. Bread? Has corn in it. Hamburgers? From corn-fed cows. Soda? Sweetened by high fructose corn syrup. Etc. At any rate, the ubiquity of corn led Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis to investigate the crop from the first person, moving to Iowa to grow an acre of corn and then follow it as it made its way into a variety of products that don't resemble corn. It seems to aim for Super Size Me, but lands more in the realm of a PBS science special for kids. That's not necessarily bad—it is what it is, and it's pretty interesting. Director Curt Ellis, the Oregon Food Bank's Mike Moran, Sauvie Island Organics' Shari Raider, and New Seasons Market's Lisa Sedlar in attendance. SCOTT MOORE St. John's Twin Cinema and Pub.
Shot entirely from the perspective of surveillance cameras, Look's paranoid premise stretches far beyond credibility. Nevertheless, writer/director Adam Rifkin keeps viewers intrigued by showing the rotten things people are capable of when they think nobody's looking. (Read: stealing, illicit sex, killing, and more illicit sex.) None of the characters are likeable, and the interweaving of plots feels labored, but there's a sleazy appeal to watching the film's sensational subject matter, highlighted by some raunchy sex and a couple of awesome car crashes. NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre.
The Loveless & Near Dark
This Kathryn Bigelow double feature totally neglects her best film: Point Break! And where's Strange Days? Or even K-19: The Widowmaker? What the hell? The Waypost.
McCabe & Mrs. Miller
Watching Robert Altman's 1971 anti-Western today, one is struck by its influence on HBO's Deadwood, as McCabe & Mrs. Miller's start-up town of New Presbyterian is a muddy outpost of prostitution, shit-talking, drug abuse, and violence. Warren Beatty plays John McCabe, an alcoholic gambler who rides into the Pacific Northwest town-to-be at the turn of the 20th century and quickly opens a brothel with the women at hand (including "Two-for-one Lil," who's slightly larger than her name lets on). But despite a cocky façade, McCabe's neither sharp nor smooth, and the presence of a distant but sophisticated madam, menacing bounty hunters, and a town full of yokels proves ruinous for McCabe. Altman's brilliance here is in keeping the film both profanely hilarious and unsettlingly melancholy. With songs by Leonard Cohen and the gloomy atmospherics of rain-soaked despair, it takes a remarkable director to keep dick-and-turd jokes flying this fast and loose. CHAS BOWIE Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
The title Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is reminiscent of having high tea with your ancient spinster aunt as she fondly recalls when Eustace Tilley drank champagne out of her shoe right before she lost her fortune in the crash of '29. But unlike your real aunt who gets all weepy after her second glass of cherry cordial, Miss Pettigrew hitches up her knickers and delivers an entirely forgettable yet totally entertaining romantic comedy. COURTNEY FERGUSON Various Theaters.
Never Back Down
Never Back Down tells the story of a good-looking teenager from the wrong side of the tracks and his single mother, who move to a new town filled with wealthy shitsticks who want to fight him via non-sanctioned combat that may or may not take place in a basement owned by Tyler Durden. Shitstick pack leader—I'm going to call him "Johnny"—is dating a pretty blonde girl, maybe named "Ali." Our hero, "Daniel-san," has a big ol' crush on Ali, and after getting his ass handed to him by Johnny, Daniel-san learns the secrets of chop socky from a mysterious and lonely guru with an accent. Twelve thousand montages later, the audience learns Daniel-san is the best around and nothing's ever gonna keep him down! KIALA KAZEBEE Various Theaters.
There is nothing new in the horror flick The Orphanage. There is a haunted house. There are ghosts. There are deformed kids, there are masks, there are unsettling old/young people, there are flickering video screens filled with grainy night vision, and there are—totally unironically—things that go bump in the night. In short, screenwriter Sergio G. Sánchez and director Juan Antonio Bayona are content to dig up and exploit every worn-out horror cliché they can think of—which'd be a problem if The Orphanage wasn't so goddamn scary. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
See review. Cinema 21.
Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical graphic novels, Persepolis and Persepolis II, are reimagined in an excellent animated treatment that condenses the events of the two books into a frank, poignant coming-of-age story that surpasses its source material in both visual elegance and storytelling economy. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
Praying With Lior
Here's a documentary about a kid with Down syndrome celebrating his bar mitzvah. Interested? Yeah, I thought not. Look, Lior's a sweetheart, and sure, it's touching and all that the little guy is able to overcome his obstacles. But if you're voluntarily subjecting yourself to a movie as sentimental and manipulative as this, it indicates a waste of valuable energy that would be better spent reading Tuesdays with Morrie, or knitting sweaters with baby lambs on them, or looking at Anne Geddes photographs. So would it surprise you if I told you that I actually shed a tear at the end of Praying with Lior, when the kid reads from the Torah at his bar mitzvah ceremony? It surprised the fuck out of me, that's for sure. NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre.
A PG-13 horror movie starring Dawson's Creek's Joshua Jackson. Shockingly, it wasn't screened in time for press; hit portlandmercury.com on Friday, March 21 for our review. Various Theaters.
With an all-star cast, the agonizingly slow (we're talking sssslllloooowwww) Sleepwalking gimpily chronicles how 11-year-old Tara (AnnaSophia Robb) struggles when her frazzled mother (Charlize Theron) abandons her in favor of a semi-truck driver. Left in the care of her clueless uncle James (Nick Stahl), Tara copes with the loss of her mother, the foster care system, and eventually the demons of her uncle (AKA his abusive father, played by Dennis Hopper). Sleepwalking does its ineffectual damnedest to show us the "deep bond" that develops between Tara and James—a bond that will allow James to "wake up" from his everyday dream of a life; a bond that's intended to seem heart wrenching via lingering close-ups and meaningful stares into the horizon. COURTNEY FERGUSON Fox Tower 10.
See review. Living Room Theaters.
Dawn (Jess Weixler) is a sexually repressed high school student who, unbeknownst to her, has vagina dentata—i.e., her red snapper has really, really sharp teeth. Combining black humor, monster-movie horror, and the best of '70s sexploitation flicks, writer/director Mitchell Lichtenstein's fascinating film manages to avoid the Fatal Attraction cautionary tale pitfalls and successfully aims for a message of female sexual empowerment. COURTNEY FERGUSON Clinton Street Theater.
Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns
Tyler Perry returns—once again draggin' it up as his popular Medea character, and once again refusing to show his movie to critics. Division Street.
I'm not sure how you felt about What the Bleep Do We Know!?, but your reaction to that film is likely to be your reaction to Water. The makers of Bleep are distributing this sloppy metaphysical "documentary" about the possible consciousness of water. A multicultural blend of "important" scientists freeze water in little cryogenic coffins and play music to it. Lo and behold, pretty music makes water prettier! Cursing at water makes it fugly! I consulted with my friend who just earned a Ph.D. in science (don't ask for more specifics—I have not a clue, but it has something to do with brightly colored algae on Mars). Niki informed me that this sounded like a load of shit. She's way smarter than me, so I'm going to agree with her. COURTNEY FERGUSON Bagdad Theater.
Set in Paris in 1984, The Witnesses provides a French take on the first bomb-drop of HIV. Everything is très bien between Mehdi, a strutting Algerian detective (Sami Bouajila), and Sarah (Emmanuelle Béart), a chesty writer with postpartum depression and whopping silicone lips—until Mehdi starts bumming 18-year-old Manu (Johan Libéreau), who subsequently develops AIDS. It's all pretty iconoclastic, but the platonic relationship between Manu and his older admirer, doctor Adrien (Michel Blanc), is where the movie really breaks new ground: It's actually okay for gay older men to befriend cute, really young ones, even when their motives are confused. MATT DAVIS Hollywood Theatre.
The Year My Parents Went on Vacation
See review. Fox Tower 10.