recommended

Various Theaters.

Elegy

See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.

Encounters at the End of the World

Gorgeous and melancholy and surreal, Encounters is the result of director Werner Herzog's trip to Antarctica, where the National Science Foundation sent him to interview the brave, strange souls who work at the remote McMurdo research station, and explore the unforgiving, alien landscapes that stretch out around that tiny speck of civilization. Herzog's charmingly gloomy voiceover floats over cinematographer Peter Zeitlinger's stunning visuals of Antarctic volcanoes and the otherworldly ocean ecosystems that thrive underneath thick shelves of ice, and the filmmaker's usual mopey reflections set a tone that's at once uplifting and somber (he calls the Antarctic "a seemingly endless void" at the film's outset, and things only get more cheery from there). It's nothing short of astonishing. ERIK HENRIKSEN Hollywood Theatre.

Footloose & Flashdance

See My, What a Busy Week!, pg. 11. Plan B.

Forever

The concept behind this documentary is a good one: Interview visitors at Paris' famous Père-Lachaise cemetery to find out what motivates pilgrims from across the world to lay flowers on the grave of Jim Morrison or plant lipstick kisses on Oscar Wilde's headstone. Unfortunately, in an attempt to make some broader connections about art and life and death, filmmaker Heddy Honigmann wanders far outside the cemetery, and in so doing, tramples over the simple premise that made the film potentially interesting in the first place. ALISON HALLETT Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.

Frozen River

See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.

Hamlet 2

See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.

The House Bunny

A comedy about a former Playboy bunny (Anna Faris) who helps out the "socially clueless" sisters of a sorority. Unbelievably, it was not screened for critics in time for press; hit portlandmercury.com on Friday, August 22 for our review. Various Theaters.

Kabluey

I feel sorry for the "quirky" film genre: It's taken such a drubbing over the last few years that it might just be impossible for an even slightly flawed example to succeed. Writer/director Scott Prendergast's Kabluey is a likeable, if not loveable, case in point of the browbeaten genre, with its sunny, oddball characters and over-arching need to make the audience laugh. Doltish slacker Salman (Prendergast) moves in with his sister-in-law (Lisa Kudrow) to help take care of her two hellion kids, because her husband is fighting in Iraq. Salman gets a part-time job with a corporation as their flier-distributing mascot–a huge, bubble-headed blue blob–and he's driven out to a barren wasteland every day to stand by the side of the road, where he holes up for hours and watches cars go by, his fliers blowing in the wind. With a semi-star cast and a general, amiable aesthetic, Kabluey is a decent bet for those of you who can still stand a bit of whimsy rammed down your windpipe. COURTNEY FERGUSON Living Room Theaters.

Krull

The sci-fi/fantasy/adventure flick from 1983. You've probably seen the VHS cover art painted on the side of a van. Laurelhurst Theater.

The Longshots

Not screened for critics, this family dramedy has Ice Cube playing a former football star who teaches his 11-year-old niece how to play the game. Also, it is based on a true story. Also, it was directed by the one and only Fred Durst. GHAYAHA BRAIN EXPLODING Various Theaters.

A Night of Vintage Progressive Rock

ELO, Yes, Jethro Tull, et al. show up in this installment of the Clinton Street's Late Night Unreleased Music Series. Clinton Street Theater.

The Rocker

See review this issue. Various Theaters..

Sangre De Mi Sangre

A Sundance-approved thriller that follows two Mexican men in New York City. Skulduggery and trickery ensue. Living Room Theaters.

Stand by Me

Watch Stand by Me again and marvel at the latent homosexuality between Gordie (Wil Wheaton) and Chris (River Phoenix). These two troubled tweens spend the whole movie hanging back from the gang, whispering secrets, crying on each other's shoulder, sharing long, meaningful glances, and willing themselves not to pick leeches off each other's wangs—no matter how badly they want to. CHAS BOWIE Clinton Street Theater.

Super Argo and the Faceless Giants

This Italian picture from 1968 continues the adventures of Super Argo, a pro wrestler turned secret agent who fights evil criminals while wearing his wrestling costume. He's psychic, too—a true Renaissance man! This time around, Super Argo battles the faceless giants of the title, who turn out to be normal-sized men. With faces. (There wasn't a lot of money to spend on costumes.) It's Z-movie schlock, but it's totally witless fun, provided you can get on board a movie about a guy in a mask and bulletproof tights who fights crime. Hey, you did it for The Dark Knight, right? NED LANNAMANN Hotel Deluxe

Tropic Thunder

Ben Stiller plays Tugg Speedman, a depressed, lonely action star whose best years are well behind him. Meanwhile, Jack Black is Jeff Portnoy, a maniacal drug addict/actor who's best known for movies like The Fatties Fart 2, and Robert Downey Jr. dons blackface as Kirk Lazarus, an award-winning white method actor who, while playing a black man, can't break character. Ever. The three are on location in Vietnam, filming an adaptation of a memoir by war veteran Four Leaf Tayback (Nick Nolte, with hooks for hands, literally) that's being directed by some British guy (the ordinarily marvelous Steve Coogan, whose sole qualification for this job is an English accent). They're all watched over by an overweight, disgustingly hairy bulldog of a studio exec who's so foul that you can practically see stink lines wafting off the screen. Tom Cruise plays the studio exec. If you can't tell already, there's entirely too much going on here: Tropic Thunder wants to be a comedy and a slam-bang action ride, but the violence is too grisly to be funny, and the concepts keep folding in on each other. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.

Up the Yangtze

See review this issue. Cinema 21.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Woody Allen's three previous movies took place in London, and it seems he's finally left Manhattan behind altogether. Vicky Cristina Barcelona functions well as a fluffy bit of tourism, but even more so than as a Spanish travelogue, the movie works—as with much of Allen's work—as escapism into the world of mysteriously wealthy people. As for the much-ballyhooed kiss between Scarlett Johansson and Penélope Cruz, it's pretty tame. The real fire comes from Cruz's performance; she's riveting and hilarious as a passionate, possibly insane firebrand, and whenever she shares the screen with Johansson, it's easy to forget that Johansson has all the charisma of a wet paper bag. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.

Wild Strawberries

"Would you please diagnose this patient, Professor Borg?" Pix Patisserie (North).