PORTLAND UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL (PUFF)
Runs through Sunday, June 14, at the Clinton Street Theater. For more info, see Film on pg. 45 and portlandundergroundfilmfestival.com.
Fox Tower 10.
"An odd journey by two ne'er-do-wells" occurs when a man (Bouli Lanners) drives a burglar (Fabrice Adde) through Belgium. Living Room Theaters.
This is the story of Matt "The Law" Lindland, an Oregon farmboy who just wants to Greco-Roman wrestle for his country, and who eventually becomes one of the best middle-weight cage fighters around. Scratch that—this is a story about how the humble sport of mixed martial arts, much like simple Oregon farmboy Matt Lindland, fought its way from the periphery to the mainstream. No wait—this is actually about how the Ultimate Fighting Championship sold out and cheated Lindland out of fame, glory, and (some of) his fortune. And also about how Lindland doesn't care about fame and fortune and just wants to compete. Wait—what is this movie about? In the end, not very much. But there are some entertaining moments. JANE "THE INTERN" CARLEN Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
A documentary about "a group of mothers who were detained during an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement raid on June 12, 2007 at the Del Monte produce plant in Portland." PCC Cascade Campus.
A documentary focusing on the disputed ownership of a Latino community garden in South Central, this film shows real-life corruption in the City of Angels to be just as mind boggling as its portrayal in film noir. It's enough to make a reporter want to move to Los Angeles. Or run screaming in the opposite direction. I still can't decide. MATT DAVIS Hollywood Theatre.
If one good thing comes out of The Hangover, it'll be turning comedians Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms into viable movie stars. They're both very funny guys, and here they do their best with a not-particularly-good script from the screenwriters of Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and Four Christmases. The problem with The Hangover is that it peaks too soon; early on, it succumbs to over-the-top ridiculousness, then keeps trying to top itself. About halfway through, it becomes repetitive, and then it just slides into monotony. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
The 1963 Paul Newman classic. Laurelhurst Theater.
Land of the Lost
There's a special place in hell reserved for those who remake old TV shows into feature films. While there are certainly a few excellent exceptions (The Addams Family, The Fugitive, and The Brady Bunch), there are so many more that should have been smothered in their sleep (The Beverly Hillbillies, Dukes of Hazzard, Bewitched... shall I go on?). When approaching such a project, the question should be: How does one capture the tone of the original without kissing its ass? In the case of the updated Land of the Lost (starring Will Ferrell and Danny McBride), the producers correctly said, "Screw the original! We've got Will Ferrell and Danny McBride! Just let them stand around making jerk off jokes, because it's gonna be hilarious." And they were right. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
The Lemon Tree
Salma is a Palestinian widow who quietly tends her late father's lemon grove until the Israeli defense minister deems the trees a security risk. This pretty, sad film is about her fight to keep her grove, and made my heart ache a bit for both sides of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. LOGAN SACHON Hollywood Theatre.
The 1976 thriller with Dustin Hoffman. Bagdad Theater.
As the number of children in New York City has increased exponentially in the last decade, so has their potential social cachet—it's not uncommon for parents to spend more money on one year of preschool than I spent on my entire college career. In following a handful of parents trying to place their kids in the city's most selective preschools, Nursery University avoids easy criticisms: Some of the parents here are horrifyingly status-hungry and fun to hate, while others just genuinely want the best for their kids—no easy proposition in the complicated, anxiety-riddled world of urban parenting. ALISON HALLETT Living Room Theaters.
Kirby Dick has a history of focusing on solid stories and turning them into compelling documentaries—I enjoyed his 2006 exposé of Hollywood's broken ratings system, This Film Is Not Yet Rated, but it didn't tug at my activist conscience quite so strongly as his latest effort. Outrage opens with audio of former Idaho Senator Larry Craig denying having solicited sex from a cop in a bathroom stall in 2007. Then David Phillips tells us he fucked Craig in the early '80s, after which Craig reportedly told him, "Just remember, I can buy and sell your ass 1,000 times." While anyone's sexuality ordinarily wouldn't be any of our beeswax, Outrage makes the point that it sure as hell should be when that person votes against giving medication to AIDS patients. MATT DAVIS Fox Tower 10.
Punk Rock Holocaust
The Warped Tour is besieged by grisly murders in a film that boasts "the highest on-screen body count in slasher film history, with entire crowds being massacred in addition to the deaths of over 110 band members." Something like that could almost make the Warped Tour enjoyable! Almost. Not screened for critics. Clinton Street Theater.
An exquisite tale of fate, tragedy, and revenge, Revanche patiently examines the lives of a pair of strangers and how they fatefully intersect with each other. A permanently brooding petty crook (brilliantly played by Johannes Krisch) struggles to deal with the aftermath of a personal tragedy, and whether or not seek vengeance. The film plays out like a tempered Austrian Cape Fear (Cape Führer?), told from the point of view of the Max Cady character. EZRA ACE CARAEFF Cinema 21.
See Film, pg. 45. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
See Film, pg. 45. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Short films from Lori Felker, Ben Popp, Crispin Rosenkrantz, and Pippa Possible. Performance Works Northwest.
Visual Poetry: The Films of Amar Kanwar
Two films from New Delhi-based filmmaker Amar Kanwar. Stylistically, A Season Outside is unexceptional: A sequence of tiny moments, reduced by the narration's strained poeticism, scratches out a picture of the day-to-day tension felt at the heart of the Indian-Pakistani conflict. What makes this 30-minute film an exceptional documentary isn't what Kanwar imposes onto his images, but how they eventually cajole the viewer into thinking about the struggle in terms of individuals rather than sides. There's also A Night of Prophecy, an essay film that explores the folk culture passed through the Indian-Pakistani conflict. At its best—usually when someone is singing—it provides occasional glimpses of light in the long shadow of history. At worst, you'll have to withstand a seemingly endless scroll of awkwardly translated poetry, set against nondescript images of squalor. ANDREW STOUT Cinema Project Microcinema.
Wiener Takes All: A Dogumentary
A "dogumentary" about "a year in the lives of the fast and the furriest." In non-cutespeak, it's an over-long film about competitive dachshund racing. Coincidentally, puns and weenie dog racing have a lot in common, both being the lowest forms of their ilk. Nearly poking a hole in his cheek with his tongue, director Shane MacDougall interviews fanatical dachshund owners in this scattershot affair. Is it about weenie dog racing? Or corrupt judges at upper-crust dog shows? Or does it want to shed light on the illustrious history of the dog? It just left me with a fur-rowed brow. COURTNEY FERGUSON Hollywood Theatre.