The 33rd Annual Young People's Film & Video Festival
Short films from K-12 kids, including Snags, by Mrs. Robert's second-grade class at Buckman Elementary ("Beavers, beetles, garter snakes, and salmon acting wild in their forest home") and The Case of the Missing Homework ("This case needs to be solved by all!"), by Ms. Sigmund's fifth and sixth-grade class at the Emerson School. ADORABLE. If a film could get multiple stars here, this one would have 20. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Eight short films from directors like Gus Van Sant, Mira Nair, Jane Campion, and Wim Wenders, all of which examine different aspects of the "Millenium Development Goals"—eight goals intended by various governments to halve world poverty by 2015. Screens as part of the Northwest Film Center's "Voices in Action: Human Rights on Film" series. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Goddamn, is it gorgeous to look at. 9 is full of astonishing visuals—brilliantly conceived things that twist and gleam in the light, moving with a fluidity and a vigor that most animated characters can only dream of. The world of 9 is a haunting, haunted place—one of bombed-out buildings, grimy skies, and vestiges of long-dead humanity—and watching the film's burlap-sack protagonists creep and dash through it, their tiny mechanized eyes full of fear and awe, is undoubtedly impressive. Unfortunately, 9 is based on a 10-minute-long, Academy Award-winning short that director Shane Acker made in 2005, and despite his and co-writer Pamela Pettler's efforts, this feature-length expansion adds nothing of consequence. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
An old geezer discovers he has a long-lost 16-year-old daughter... OR DOES HE?! Screens as part of the northwest Film Center's "Contemporary Spanish Cinema" series. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
The Baader Meinhof Complex
Told largely via the perspective of Ulrike Meinhof (Martina Gedeck)—a journalist who left behind her family and career to become one of the key figures of the German terrorist group the Red Army Faction—Baader Meinhof is a tense, chilling examination of why people turn to violence. It's a movie about terrorism, in other words, and while it might work just fine as a history lesson, it'd be foolish to overlook its contemporary significance. ERIK HENRIKSEN Hollywood Theatre.
Bird's Nest: Herzog and
de Meuron In China
A doc about Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, designers of the "Bird's Nest" Olympic stadium. Screens as part of the Northwest Film Center's "Lens on China" series. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
"You're not the boss of me, Jack. You're not the king of Dirk. I'm the boss of me. I'm the king of me. I'm Dirk Diggler. I'm the star. It's my big dick, and I say when we roll." Laurelhurst Theater.
See review. Fox Tower 10.
The Burning Plain
See review. Cinema 21.
An award-bedazzled film by Javier Feser that "weaves melodrama, horror, and animation" together. Screens as part of the northwest Film Center's "Contemporary Spanish Cinema" series. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Cloudy with a Chance
Calm down. No one's raping your childhood. In fact, the creative team behind Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs has the utmost respect for the children's book you loved as a kid. You'll find nods to the original in their beautiful, imaginative adaptation, even as the source material is transformed into something wholly unexpected and new. Bruce Campbell, Bill Hader, Andy Samberg, Anna Farris, Neil Patrick Harris, Mr. T, and more lend their voices here, and they're just as funny as you want them to be. The movie's sophisticated, fast-paced humor owes more to The Muppet Show and Arrested Development than to most of its CG contemporaries, and the whole thing's so offbeat and original that it makes even Pixar look conventional. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
Paul Giamatti plays Paul Giamatti, a schlubby, semi-famous New York actor stuck in rehearsals for a stage production of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya. Drained and frustrated, he reads a New Yorker article about a "soul storage" business on Roosevelt Island; when he visits, he finds a sterile facility run by Dr. Flintstein (David Strathairn), who promises to extract Giamatti's soul, relieving him of his weariness. "Don't worry," Flintstein says. "Just think of it as... well, as another one of your organs, like your heart. Or your liver. Or your pancreas." With Cold Souls, writer/director Sophie Barthes (aided by cool, measured cinematography from Andrij Parekh) has crafted a film that does what the best science fiction should: It reminds the viewer of much, but dwells on little; it convinces even as it astounds; it knows its genre, but never gets mired in it. Most importantly, it's a film that isn't quite like anything you've seen before. ERIK HENRIKSEN Fox Tower 10.
An "often hilarious and outrageous" thriller. Screens as part of the northwest Film Center's "Contemporary Spanish Cinema" series. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Deprofundis: The Sound of the Sea
Spanish comics artist Miguelanxo Prado animates a "lyrical, wordless story about freedom, passion, and loss." Screens as part of the northwest Film Center's "Contemporary Spanish Cinema" series. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
See review. Various Theaters.
A Fiancé for Yasmina
A "tenderhearted romantic story" that screens as part of the northwest Film Center's "Contemporary Spanish Cinema" series. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Flame and Citron
See review. Hollywood Theatre.
1983's dancin' chick flick is back—and this time, you're allowed to sing and dance in the aisles during the film! Wow. Typing that kind of made me want to put a bullet in my head. Mission Theater.
By far the most impressive in a rash of documentaries addressing food industry corruption in America. MARJORIE SKINNER Laurelhurst Theater, Living Room Theaters.
"Plastics." The Press Club.
Humpday is more focused and charming than most mumblecore films, taking the best qualities and leaving behind the characteristic sloppiness and over-privileged naiveté. The result is a breakthrough, and as we're led into the inner circle of the characters' earnest attempts to be communicative, positive, and open minded, it slowly dawns on you how mistreated we are by the studios' infliction of endless lashes of gender stereotype and homophobia, where 90-minute jokes are based on the supposed male aversion to talking about their feelings. MARJORIE SKINNER Laurelhurst Theater.
The Hurt Locker
It's easy to say The Hurt Locker is gonna be one of the best movies of this year, because... well, it is. But that doesn't convey what an intense and challenging experience it is to watch Kathryn Bigelow's thriller about a bomb squad stationed in Baghdad in 2004, led by Staff Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner). You will feel fine going in to The Hurt Locker. You will walk out feeling like you lost a fistfight. ERIK HENRIKSEN Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
Based on a true story, the hilarious The Informant! is one of director Steven Soderbergh's best films—and considering the dude's other work (Traffic, Che, Ocean's Eleven, The Limey, Out of Sight, Erin Brockovich), that's saying a hell of a lot. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Overall, this is a hell of a picture, and parts of it are as great, if not better, than anything else Quentin Tarantino's done. Basterds' opening sequence is a nerve-wracking exercise in tension; throughout, there's a dark humor that'll make you snicker and clench your teeth; there are killer performances from Brad Pitt and Christoph Waltz, who plays a particularly vicious Nazi named Colonel Hans Landa, AKA "The Jew Hunter." (Pitt's character, a charming, totally fucked-up Tennessean lieutenant named Aldo "The Apache" Raine, demands his soldiers scalp the Nazis they kill and gleefully carves swastikas into the foreheads of those he lets live; Landa, meanwhile, is so terrifyingly funny that he'll go down as one of the best movie villains in recent memory.) And then there's the rest of Basterds, which is a sizeable chunk, and which never works quite as well as the stuff above. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
A doc that "explores a thriving local food movement as our world becomes a more flavorless, disconnected, and dangerous place to eat." You know, just in case you hadn't heard. From the 27,023 other documentaries about this exact same subject. Bagdad Theater.
Megan Fox plays Jennifer, a high school hottie in the small town of Devil's Kettle who, while wildly popular, continues to be BFFs with her nebbish childhood buddy, the aptly named Needy (Amanda Seyfried). Jennifer and Needy have a complicated and symbiotic relationship, but things get even more complicated when a struggling emo band with an interest in the occult (not joking!) and a lead singer played by the hilarious Adam Brody (Seth from The O.C.—not joking!), accidentally turn Jennifer into an intestines-devouring demon. As the newly demonized Jennifer feeds on the horny teenage boys of Devil's Kettle, the town is brought to its knees—and all of Jennifer and Needy's relationship issues bubble up to the surface. (One of which, thankfully, is suppressed lesbianism.) Jennifer's Body is smart, creepy, funny, thoughtful, disgusting, and, for a horror movie, surprisingly pro-woman. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
Land of Look Behind
Alan Greenberg's 1982 documentary about Bob Marley. WARNING: HIPPIES WILL BE PRESENT. Director in attendance for shows on Saturday, September 26. Clinton Street Theater.
Late Night Double Feature Picture Show
Boxxes' free movie night. This week's selections: Showgirls and SLC Punk. Boxxes.
The romcom business is seized with denial, with each chick flick after the other claiming to be "more than the usual romantic comedy." This can be read as disrespectful toward actual fans of romantic comedies—good ones do exist—and can be loosely translated to mean, "It doesn't suck this time, we swear." And while it's true Love Happens deals with unfunny topics like grieving, and is not romantic at all, it's also a baffling potpourri of indelicate clashes of marketing schmaltz and stabs at emotional resonance. MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters.
What they call that dude from The Fugitive when he needs some action! HA! No. This is a drama featuring "some of the hottest stars of Spanish rap"! FINALLY. Screens as part of the northwest Film Center's "Contemporary Spanish Cinema" series. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
The Other Half
A Chinese drama that pits "youth culture against tradition." Screens as part of the Northwest Film Center's "Lens on China" series. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Wha? Another crappy looking horror flick that wasn't shown to critics? You don't say.... Various Theaters.
A cinematic expression of the idea that awkwardness equals authenticity—that bad social skills and an inability to relate to others are hallmarks of "realness." Tracing the evolution of this idea would be an interesting exercise (John Cusack might have something to do with it), but instead, Paper Heart and its disingenuous, faux-documentary structure represent the pinnacle of self-absorbed twentysomething cinema to date. ALISON HALLETT Laurelhurst Theater.
A loose retelling of "The Little Mermaid," Ponyo is reportedly the final film of legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. It isn't quite the masterwork one would hope he'd go out on—there's nothing quite as amazing here as the stuff in Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, or My Neighbor Totoro—but even when Miyazaki isn't at the top of his game, his stuff's still pretty great, and anybody watching Ponyo won't be disappointed. ERIK HENRIKSEN Fox Tower 10.
"The rifle is the first weapon you learn how to use, because it lets you keep your distance from the client. The closer you get to being a pro, the closer you can get to the client. The knife, for example, is the last thing you learn." Fifth Avenue Cinema.
Just like Psycho, but crappier! Bagdad Theater.
An Italian executive loses his wife, and helps his young daughter deal with the loss. Narrated by Snuffleupagus. Living Room Theaters.
A film about a "drug dealer by day and by night a dangerous hunter of anonymous women." Livin' the dream, livin' the dream. Screens as part of the northwest Film Center's "Contemporary Spanish Cinema" series. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
With its interminable sex scenes and abandoned plot threads, some could say The Room is a "bad" movie, but this raises the question of what makes a movie "good." Is it a comprehensible script? Believable acting? Sets that don't look like they're going to topple over at any second? The Room contains none of these elements, yet that hardly detracts from its remarkably high entertainment value. In fact, The Room may have you questioning the reasons you've ever enjoyed anything in your life—as well as serving as incontrovertible proof that making a movie is very, very difficult. NED LANNAMANN Cinema 21.
The September Issue
In the all-access documentary The September Issue, Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour's legendary iciness seems like the unremarkable product of natural decisiveness and an incredibly heavy schedule. She's irreverent, yes, but someone has to be, even at the highest echelon. When she does rarely communicate an emotion in this film, it's a borderline vulnerability, describing her family's "amusement" with her occupation, or showing a motherly turn in the lips as her daughter talks of plans to attend law school in lieu of following in her mother's footsteps. But far more interesting revelations come from the rest of Vogue's staff—particularly the warm, funny Grace Coddington, who joined Vogue at the same time Wintour did, and who not only doesn't fear her but acts as a buffer between her and the magazine's hilariously frantic staff. MARJORIE SKINNER Fox Tower 10.
A couple has trouble with their eight-year-old adopted child and considers sending him back. (Wait, you can do that?!) Screens as part of the northwest Film Center's "Contemporary Spanish Cinema" series. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Suck My Flick Film Night
A new, promising-sounding night of homemade short films (10 minutes or less). Show up at 7:30 if you want to show your movie; films start at 8, and the evening ends with the audience voting on which short was the best. More info: portlandfilm.org. Alberta Street Public House.
France has churned out some decent dramas lately—I've Loved You So Long and A Christmas Tale both offered honest, sophisticated versions of contemporary family life. Summer Hours, a new film by writer/director Olivier Assayas, aims for a little honesty and sophistication of its own, but ultimately, it mines the deep vein of family dysfunction far less successfully than its predecessors. ALISON HALLETT Living Room Theaters.
See review. Various Theaters.
Under Our Skin
"A gripping tale of microbes, medicine, and money, Under Our Skin exposes the hidden story of Lyme disease, one of the most controversial and fastest growing epidemics of our time." Best date movie ever! Hollywood Theatre.
World's Greatest Dad
Sometimes it feels like Robin Williams is the source of all the melancholy in the world. You know? Like the Fates took all the joy that Robin Williams ever possessed or would possess and wove it into one magical pair of rainbow suspenders, which were stolen by a witch some time in the early 1980s, forcing him to transition into Adult Human Pants (held up by the Belt of Gloom), leaving nothing inside but a vacuous, suspender-shaped quarry of despair. And we all. Might. Fall. In. In World's Greatest Dad, a brutally bleak comedy written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait, Williams is Lance Clayton, single father, medium failure ("I am a writer"), and unpopular high-school poetry teacher. When his teenage son, Kyle, a cruel, sex-obsessed asshole, dies autoerotic-asphyxiatorially, Lance tries to salvage his offspring's reputation. He forges, in Kyle's name, the diary of a tortured poet who never existed at all, Kyle becomes a sort of high-school folk hero, and Lance gets a book deal and a crisis of conscience. World's Greatest Dad is rough, funny, smart stuff. LINDY WEST Hollywood Theatre.