& Gay Film Festival
For more info on the fest, see Film on pg. 48, My What a Busy Week! on pg. 19, and plgff.org. Not all films were screened for critics. All films screen at Cinema 21.
And Then Came Lola
A "time-bending, sexy lesbian romp" that rips off is loosely inspired by Run Lola Run. Preceded by the short film The Sheep and the Ranch Hand.
In the Mediterranean's "capital of cool," Tel Aviv, we're introduced, brain-freezingly slowly, to a few fairly interesting gay men seeking love (or at least their next trick) and a lesbian who didn't marry her girlfriend because she wants to go to Antarctica. There are also some alleged alien abductions and various abandoned subplots. We're also asked to believe an obvious drag queen is someone's biological mother. Antarctica seems to want to go many, many places, but one gets the feeling it ends up on the frozen continent just because it got so terribly, terribly lost. BRAD BUCKNER
The Big Gay Musical
Yep, it's a big gay musical, about two actors starring in an off-Broadway musical whose "lives strangely mirror the characters they are playing."
This claustrophobic British drama—about the intersection between British tabloid views of gayness and the risks inherent to a gay lifestyle in South London—oozes a frankness unusual from American filmmakers. The underlying theme, that middle class Brits think they accept gays "ever since Elton and David," is challenged by compelling portrayals of "cottaging" by gay men in public toilets, and, more forcefully, by a consensual sex scene between a 14-year-old boy and a 30-year-old convicted pedophile. Such relationships are of course commonplace all over the world, but neither Elton nor The Sun would ever admit it. Unexpected bonus: A graphic full-frontal shot of former British soap star Paul Nicholls. My jaw dropped three inches. MATT DAVIS
A film that "tackles the themes of racism, domestic abuse, sexism, and homophobia" and also is advertised as being "the funniest lesbian movie in years." Funnier than Romy and Michele's High School Reunion? Yeah, right.
H An Englishman in New York
See Film, pg. 48.
H Greek Pete
Blending fiction and truth to startling effect, this low-budget, documentary-style narrative peeks candidly into the lives of London rent boys. Refusing to glamorize or malign the profession,
Greek Pete focuses on the personal experiences and thoughts of escorts, who are played by actual sex workers. Most notably there's Pete, a remarkably disarming young bloke who strives to distance himself from a poverty-ridden youth—and as he shares his perspective on his life and work, intimately scrutinizing close-ups often reveal sadness or doubt beneath the easy positivity he tries to project. WILL RADIK
A lesbian romance set in a nursing home!
Hollywood Je T'Aime
After a breakup, Jerome follows his dreams—or perhaps his delusions—from shades-of-gray Paris to full-color Hollywood. Without a plan or much in the way of euros, he sleepwalks into the waking dream that is Hollywood, and befriends a hot, HIV positive pot-dealer (Chad Allen), a sweet tranny prostitute, and a matronly drag queen. All are affected by his natural, unassuming sad-eyed charm, by his—'ow you say eet? Frenchneese? Expect many questions left unanswered, and no grand statements, but rather a film that quietly explores the bittersweet, fleeting quality of interpersonal connections. BRAD BUCKNER
H Off and Running
Relying on teenage track star Avery Klein-Cloud to tell her story is a risk that's mostly rewarded. Born Mycole Antwonisha, Avery was adopted from a black mother in Texas, and raised by a lesbian Jewish couple in New York. When she contacts her birth mother, it unleashes a torrent of emotions—alienation, self-doubt, hating of the parents—that are typically teenage, but unusually reasonable here. It's fascinating to peer in on this family, even if at times, Avery keeps everyone—filmmakers included—at bay. JANE CARLEN
H Out Late
See Film, pg. 48.
Out of the Blue
See Film, pg. 48.
Patrik, Age 1.5
See Film, pg. 48.
See Film, pg. 48.
An 18-year-old British gang member starts to get boners for other dudes. Whoopsie!
Sing-Along Hedwig and
the Angry Inch
Yep. Pretty much what it sounds like.
500 Days of Summer
In the 500 days this film spans, a familiar arc is described: Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschanel) date; Tom gets too attached; Summer breaks it off; and Tom lapses into the sort of melodramatic, self-pitying behavior that seems utterly ridiculous when engaged in by anyone but oneself. But wait. Problem: Breakups are depressing, and Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel are far too adorable to squander on melodrama. So first-time director Marc Webb skirts the bummer factor by shuffling his story's chronology, splicing together out-of-order scenes from their relationship to chart its dissolution. Other gags further cushion the film's potential emotional impact: There's split-screen, a totally superfluous narrator, a musical number, and, as always, Deschanel's inability to register emotional depth—all of which collude to render a gut-ripping breakup as mild indie entertainment. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
"I've seen The Exorcist about 167 times, and it keeps getting funnier every single time I see it." Bagdad Theater.
Bus Riders Union
The debut film in the PSU Progressive Student Union's thrilling "Kabul to Kandahar Antiwar Progressive Fall Film Fest"! Laughing Horse Books.
Capitalism: A Love Story
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
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.
An Evening with Bill Morrison
New York filmmaker Bill Morrison introduces and discusses some of his works. More info: nwfilm.org. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Expo: Magic of the White City
Mark Bussier's 2005 documentary on the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, which featured exhibits by Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. Narrated by Gene Wilder. AIA Portland.
In Extract, the new film from Office Space director Mike Judge, Ben Affleck has a terrible beard. I mean, really terrible. It's the kind of beard one usually sees in a community theater production of Chekhov, or perhaps glued to the chin of a fourth grader pretending to be Abraham Lincoln. However, fans of Affleck will be pleased to know that—despite his terrible, awful beard (and it really is quite distressingly flawed)—he steals the show, which is a feat considering he plays opposite a stellar cast that includes Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, J.K. Simmons, and the heartbreakingly gorgeous (and boner-inducing) Mila Kunis. It's too bad he's a secondary character. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Cinemagic, St. Johns Twin Cinema and Pub.
Some remakes stand on their own, reinventing, expanding, and occasionally surpassing their source material. Fame is not one of those remakes. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
Flame and Citron
Flame and Citron were members of the Danish Resistance—which is a polite way of saying that they were assassins, executing Nazi propagandists and collaborators, and sabotaging the efforts of the Nazi forces that occupied Denmark after 1940. "I forgot that we're not killing people, but Nazis," Flame (Thure Lindhardt) says at one point, explaining why he found himself unable to shoot a woman. (The next time he experiences qualms about killing a lady, he resolves them by covering her face with his hand before he shoots her.) Though writer/director Ole Christian Madsen lurches into moralizing territory at times (the phrase "I was just following orders" is never uttered, but it might as well be), the film's emphasis is largely on Flame and Citron's struggle to kill bad guys while staying one step ahead of their enemies—and as tension ratchets toward its inevitable conclusion, Flame and Citron proves an effectively action-packed espionage joint. ALISON HALLETT Hollywood Theatre.
By far the most impressive in a rash of documentaries addressing food industry corruption in America. MARJORIE SKINNER Mission Theater.
An evening of lo-fi TV rarities that pay tribute to Michael Jackson. Pix Patisserie (North).
"I'm taking a remedial high school art class for fuck-ups and retards." The Press Club.
Grindhouse Film Festival: Alligator & Chained Heat
Now this is a hell of a thing: First there's 1980's creature feature Alligator, written by John Sayles and starring Robert Forster (who is badass, AS ALWAYS) as a cop who hunts down a giant man-eating gator in Chicago. As if that wouldn't be enough on its own, it's followed by 1983's Chained Heat, in which Linda Blair plays an inmate at a women's prison "filled with violence, drugs, and lesbianism"! Clinton Street Theater.
The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival
The annual convergence of all things betentacled and gothic. This year's features include The Mist, Relic of Cthulhu, Beyond the Dunwich Horror, and more. More info: hplfilmfestival.com. 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.
How Is Your Fish Today?
A film about a mopey screenwriter who "generally plods through life, trusty cigarette in hand" and "obsessively rewrites a rejected script he cannot seem to forget." Soo... yeah. Screens as part of the Northwest Film Center's "Lens on China" series. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
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 Oak Grove 8 Cinemas.
The Invention of Lying
The new comedy from Ricky Gervais. Not screened in time for press, hit portlandmercury.com on Friday, October 2 for our review. Various Theaters.
Julie & Julia
More or less entirely delightful, Julie & Julia has a pretty foolproof formula: It's a movie based on a popular book that's based on a popular blog that, in turn, was inspired by America's most popular chef. And the master of the chick flick, Nora Ephron, directs the thing, and Meryl Streep plays Julia Child, and Amy Adams plays Julie Powell, the New Yorker who decided to blog about cooking all 524 recipes in Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year. Despite the fact that, bewilderingly, not a single person in the film notes the endless comedic potential of the oft-repeated phrase "boning a duck," Julie & Julia is still entertaining, enjoyable, and good-hearted throughout. ERIK HENRIKSEN Cinemagic.
Late Night Double Feature
Boxxes' free movie night. This week's Bowie-centric selections: Labyrinth and The Hunger. Boxxes.
Lord, Save Us From Your Followers
A documentary that "explores the collision of faith and culture in America." Not screened for critics. Fox Tower 10.
The Loved One
Tony Richardson's 1965 film based on the novel by Evelyn Waugh. Pix Patisserie (North).
Puppeteer Jane Geiser is a Guggenheim Fellow and CalArts professor with a raft of puppet-related awards in her trophy cabinet. Her recent Magnetic Sleep is a nine-part serial that follows a female hypnotist on a journey toward an unknown destination, using techniques ranging from collage animation and performance to hand-painted film and superimposition. Cinema Project Microcinema.
The best way to see Duncan Jones' excellent Moon is to go in blank: no expectations, no preconceptions, and no suspicions. But here you are, still reading, so I guess you need some convincing. Fine. The basics: Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is stationed, alone, on the Moon. Nearing the end of his multi-year contract to man a largely automated mining facility, Sam works as a glorified handyman, wanders the base's empty hallways, watches videos of his wife and daughter back on Earth (Dominique McElligott and Kaya Scodelario), and talks with the base's kinda-sweet, kinda-creepy computer, GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey). Rockwell's Sam is a likeable, blue-collar guy with a lonely, shitty job, and in Moon's opening scenes, Jones gracefully captures the guy's weary isolation. You feel for Sam—which makes it all the more messed up when things, well, start to get all weird. ERIK HENRIKSEN Hollywood Theatre.
Wha? Another crappy looking horror flick that wasn't shown to critics? You don't say.... Various Theaters.
A documentary about young undocumented immigrants in America. Hollywood Theatre.
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 Cinemagic.
A documentary exploring the virtual relationships that spring up among the millions of online gamers the world over. It's engrossing stuff, especially if you've ever flirted with an attractive elf or made small talk while slaying a pixelated dragon. EARNEST "NEX" CAVALLI Hollywood Theatre.
Chuck Norris vs. Ron Silver! What else could you possibly need to know? Bagdad Theater.
In the near(ish) future Boston of Surrogates, flesh-and-blood people spend most of their time in "stim chairs," sleek La-Z-Boys from which they control robotic avatars. They feel the pleasures of living vicariously through their android surrogates—called "surries"—and have to deal with none of the pain. It's a world where car accidents, muggings, cliff-dives, and plane crashes are nothing to worry about. A dead surry is as much of an issue as a broken down car. You buy a new one. It's an amusing sci-fi concept, somehow combined with a pretty terrible action/crime/drama TV show. If you know when to pay attention and when to make snarky comments, you might have a great time. JANE CARLEN Various Theaters.
Toy Story in Disney Digital 3-D
The mystic portal awaits in the 3D re-release of Pixar's Toy Story (1995) and Toy Story 2 (1999). Gearing up for Toy Story 3, which comes out in 2010, this double feature is nonstop awesome. Crisp and colorful, the films look great, and the 10-minute intermission is full of new, stinkin' adorable bits of Pixar trivia, extra scenes, and three-eyed alien zealots (the claw is my master). Even a theater full of 200 sugar-addled ankle-biters was enthralled for the entire three hours. COURTNEY FERGUSON Various Theaters.
A documentary about the "telling changes that have taken place in Chinese society" since the country's program of economic reforms. Screens as part of the Northwest Film Center's "Lens on China" series, and for some reason it is not narrated by Rihanna. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Alexis Dos Santos' 2008 feature in which a "wide-eyed Spaniard" goes searching for his father in London, discovering "an underground polyglot squat filled with colorful free spirits." Huh. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
When We Were Kings
1997's documentary about the Rumble in the Jungle between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
The new roller derby flick starring Ellen Page and directed by Drew Barrymore. Not screened in time for press, hit portlandmercury.com on Friday, October 2 for our review. Various Theaters.
William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe
A documentary about self-described "radical lawyer" William Kunstler. Preceded by the 30-minute-long Every War Has Two Losers, a film which uses the writings of poet William Stafford to "confront collective beliefs surrounding war." Haydn Reiss, the director of Every War, in attendance. Screens as part of the Northwest Film Center's "Human Rights on Film" series. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg
A documentary about the life of the original Tina Fey, Gertrude Berg, who wrote, produced, and starred in not only her own radio show but also the first TV sitcom. Through interviews with family members, actors, and the odd Supreme Court justice (Ruth Bader Ginsburg!), the film details Berg's tremendous success, how she made a place for the Jewish family on the airwaves, and struggled with issues like anti-communist blacklisting. At times funny, poignant, and endearing, it's a good look at a strong woman ahead of her time. ALI "THE INTERN" REINGOLD Fox Tower 10.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.