Film Shorts 

The 19th Annual Cascade Festival of African Films

The Cascade Festival of African Films runs through March 7. All screenings are free, and all take place at the PCC Cascade Campus. Films were not screened for critics. For more info, see africanfilmfestival.org.

Africa Paradis

Set in 2053, Africa Pardis imagines a world in which Europe has collapsed, Africa has become a paradise, and Europeans desperately try to emigrate to Africa.

Enough!

A drama that takes place during "Algeria's blood-soaked civil war in 1990."

A Love During the War & Awaiting for Men

Two documentaries—one about women in Kinshasa, the capital of Congo, and one on women "on the edge of the Sahara desert" who "practice traditional painting by decorating the walls of the city."

New African Shorts

Four short films. Bet you can guess where they're from.

The World Unseen

A white woman in South Africa in the 1950s begins to have... urges for a black woman. Awkward!

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Battlestar Galactica: The Final Episodes

"Now, one of you—and I don't care who—pick that weapon up and shoot me." Bagdad Theater.

The Class

See review. Fox Tower 10.

Confessions of a Shopaholic

The film industry's been caught at an awkward moment. It's one thing that the early months of the year are a time when the studios release some of their lowest endeavors, but 2009 is slinking out some particularly sheepish flicks that were caught post-production in the wake of our little economic brouhaha. Bride Wars comes to mind as a humiliating romp through superficial entitlement, and Confessions of a Shopaholic, about a young woman (Isla Fisher) whose lust for designer labels drives her $16,000+ into credit card debt, initially appears poised to join it. But for all its silliness and throwaway entertainment value, Confessions' onward and upward message contains an unexpectedly comforting camaraderie. MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters.

Coraline

Gorgeous, inventive, and melancholy—a film that's fantastic to look at, gives Pixar a run for its money in the creativity department, and reminds everyone how cool animation used to look in those prehistoric days before CG. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.

Dead Man

Get your Jim Jarmusch on. Laurelhurst Theater.

Fired Up

The latest entry in the perennial teens-getting-laid genre, Fired Up follows two high school students on a trip to cheerleading camp where they attempt to get their rocks off as much as possible. The twist, though, is that unlike in other movies of this ilk—Porky's, American Pie, or Superbad—our suspiciously mature-looking protagonists (played by Nicholas D'Agosto, 28, and Eric Christian Olsen, 31) aren't dweebish losers, but rather football-playing studs who are successfully able to get just about any girl into the sack. Therefore, the movie becomes about their conquests to bag 'n' tag the two women in the entire cheerleading camp who possess enough self-respect not to sleep with them: Carly (Sarah Roemer, 24), the captain of their high school squad, and Diora (Molly Sims, 35), the married head counselor of the camp. Morally reprehensible? Yes. But also funny. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.

Food Fight

See review. Hollywood Theatre.

Friday the 13th

OMG! Counselor camp is so weak this year. Last year was so much better, with that dreamy Freddy Krueger in the arts and crafts yurt! Man, talk about a devil in the dark! This year, it's that bore Jason V. What a momma's boy. He's always pretending to drown out in Crystal Lake. He's all, "Help me, help me! I can't swim!" And one of the new girls always falls for it, swimming out to save him, only to have him grab at her boobies. What a shithead. Anyway, you're not missing anything this year. It's totally lame. COURTNEY FERGUSON Various Theaters.

Frozen River

An unlikely pair (played by Misty Upham and a pitch-perfect Melissa Leo) skirts the law and forms a tenuous bond. Writer/director Courtney Hunt masterfully keeps up the subtle suspense throughout, and it's easy to see why Frozen River won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. AMY J. RUIZ Living Room Theaters.

Gomorrah

See review. Cinema 21.

The Grindhouse Film Festival: The Toolbox Murders

See review. Hollywood Theatre.

Guest of Cindy Sherman

A promising-sounding documentary about (and co-directed by) Paul Hasegawa-Overacker, this 15-years-in-the-making film follows Hasegawa-Overacker as he develops a "romantic attachment" to Sherman and becomes "fraught with anxiety over losing himself in his role as Cindy's 'plus one' at the celebrity-studded events she regularly attended." Not screened for critics. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.

He's Just Not That Into You

Summarizing the plot of He's Just Not That Into You on a two-dimensional piece of paper is physically impossible. You'd need toothpicks and fun-sized marshmallows to construct an accurate representation, and even then you'd probably end up building a sort of ravenous, shrill-voiced toothpick monster that would want to corner you and talk about why none of the boy toothpick monsters want to date it. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.

The International

In a bit of accidental timeliness, The International's eeeevil antagonist is the fictitious "International Bank of Business and Credit." "You control the debt... you control everything," exposits one soon-to-be assassinated informant. From there on out, the film's a no-holds-barred rollercoaster of excitement in which Interpol Agent Clive Owen grumbles a lot and Manhattan District Attorney Naomi Watts frantically text messages on her BlackBerry in between saying things like, "Who gives a shit about jurisdictional providence?!" ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.

Jonas Brothers 3-D Concert Movie

The Jonas Brothers launch an all-out assault on your favorite multiplex, threatening "off-the-wall segments, a never-before-heard song ('Love Is On Its Way'), swarming fans, and a lot of JB-style humor." It's probably best to just surrender, honestly. Various Theaters.

Let the Right One In

This much-ballyhooed Scandinavian film is neither scary, teen angsty, nor spooky enough—but it is lovely, filled with austere, blue-hued snow and groves of haunting birch trees in the midst of Stockholm. And while Let the Right One In is by no means a poor entry in the vampire genre, it left me nearly as cold as the frozen landscapes, meting out little satisfaction on either a horror level or a character level. To be fair, the film doesn't pretend to scare you—it truly wants to succeed in an elegant, understated way, though it doesn't completely reach its goal. COURTNEY FERGUSON Laurelhurst Theater, Living Room Theaters.

Madame X

Poor Mrs. Anderson. She lost everything: her husband, her kid, her social status, her enormous mansion in Connecticut. All because she had a dalliance with witty and urbane Ricardo Moltalban! Lana Turner is fun to watch in this 1966 melodrama as she traverses the globe in exile, boozing and whoring it up. The blowsier Turner gets, the hotter she becomes. Will she ever be reunited with her husband and son? Will anyone discover who she really is? Does Ricardo Montalban seem more than a little gay in this movie? NED LANNAMANN Bagdad Theater.

Medea Goes to Jail

The latest from Tyler Perry. Not screened for critics. Various Theaters.

Moscow, Belgium

See review. Hollywood Theatre.

Punch-Drunk Love

"I didn't ask for a shrink. That must've been somebody else. Also, that pudding isn't mine. Also, I'm wearing this suit today because I had a very important meeting this morning. And I don't have a crying problem." The Press Club.

Push

The first three months of the year are traditionally when the big studios dump their crappy movies on the public. Push recalls an earlier tenant of the misfit movie graveyard, Jumper, in that it's about pretty, young people with superpowers. Instead of Hayden Christensen, we get Chris Evans as the vacant main character, and rather than Samuel L. Jackson squandering his talents as the bad guy, here Djimon Hounsou fills the thankless role. And instead of teleportation, the powers include telepathy, telekinesis, and precognition. These powers have been done a million times before in movies, and there's no inventiveness here, although a telekinetic battle in a restaurant in the middle of the film does at least show a little exuberance. PAUL CONSTANT Various Theaters.

Serbis

A Filipino family running a seedy adult movie theater tries to eke out a stable living amidst a backdrop of blowjobs, city noise, and poverty. The film's ample sex, like the city scenery, is not glamorous. There is sweat and snot and awkward lunging, making Serbis a refreshingly realistic and nonjudgmental work—instead of forcing a trite tale of moral heroes and sexually-charged villains, director Brillante Mendoza takes an evocative snapshot of the theater dwellers' daily living. SARAH MIRK Living Room Theaters.

Slumdog Millionaire

A frantic, decade-spanning melodrama/romance/comedy, the latest from director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Sunshine) is nothing if not overwhelming. Sometimes Slumdog Millionaire feels crassly exploitative—like a guilt-inducing parade of everything terrible that impoverished children in peril have to endure—but often it's nothing short of fucking exhilarating, a pounding, pulsing, urgent rush that jumpstarts endorphins and adrenalin. There are scenes of torture and abuse and murder alongside giddy triumphs of comedy and heart (not to mention a Bollywood-inspired dance number), and as Slumdog careens along as both a harsh drama and a hammy crowd-pleaser, it's tempting to write it off as a bit of not-particularly-subtle manipulation. But ultimately, one realizes that Boyle deeply cares about these characters—and that sympathetic core is the reason why the film is consistently, utterly, beautifully gripping. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li

See I'm Staying Home. Various Theaters.

Synecdoche, New York

The best of writer Charlie Kaufman's previous films (Adaptation, Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) were helmed by Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry—both of whom succeed in translating Kaufman's cerebral scripts into films that, while intellectual exercises of a sort, were nonetheless engaging, funny, and affecting. But with Synecdoche, New York, Kaufman directs, and disappointing as it is to admit this, the product is a chore—a dour collection of inexpertly packaged ideas that simply doesn't inspire the intellectual curiosity necessary to understand it. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.

Virgin Spring

Ingmar Bergman's 1960 film isn't quite as sexy as its title implies. Fifth Avenue Cinema.

Waltz with Bashir

During the current moment being enjoyed by the animated documentary genre (Chicago 10, Persepolis), Waltz with Bashir will stand as a landmark triumph. Already the recipient of numerous awards, including six Israeli Academy Awards, and a likely winner of the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, the glowing buzz that precedes director Ari Folman's dark, hallucinatory memoir of a tour of duty during the Lebanese Civil War is justifiable. MARJORIE SKINNER Broadway Metroplex.

Zero Film Festival

The idea of the Zero Film Festival is to showcase work by truly independent (i.e., broke) filmmakers who have produced excellent, "zero budget" films. What qualifies as "zero budget" isn't made explicitly clear, but judging by the video quality of the two films offered for review, Luke and Brie Are On a First Date and Alpha Maybe, it means a whole lot of grainy shots in the dark. KAMALA PULIGANDLA Gallery Homeland.

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