PORTLAND LATIN AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL
The third annual Portland Latin American Film Festival (PDXLAFF) begins Wednesday, October 14 and runs through Monday, October 19. All films screen at the Broadway Metroplex. For more info, see Film, next week's Mercury, and pdxlaff.org.
A Boyfriend for My Wife
See Film, this issue.
Café de los Maestros
See Film, this issue.
See Film, this issue.
Favela on Blast
A documentary about the musical genre of baile funk, a "rhythm that mixes the Miami electronic funk sound of the 1980s with the most diverse influences of Brazilian music."
I'm Going to Explode
See Film, this issue.
A documentary about young undocumented immigrants in America.
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.
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 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.
The Amityville Horror
I never saw this 1978 suburban horror flick, but I remember reading its Mad magazine parody, "The Calamityville Horror." So as far as I can tell, this movie's HILARIOUS! Bagdad Theater.
A drama about "Muna [Nisreen Faour], a single mother who leaves the West Bank with Fadi [Melkar Muallen], her teenage son, with dreams of an exciting future in the promised land of small town Illinois." Not screened for critics. Fox Tower 10.
Hiroshi Teshigahara's documentary about the architecture of Antonio Gaudi, screening as part of the Architecture + Design Festival. More info: aiaportland.com AIA Portland.
Art & Copy
A documentary by Doug Pray (Surfwise) about the advertising industry and its effects on culture. Featuring interviews with Wieden + Kennedy's Dan Wieden, Tommy Hilfiger, and the people who came up with the "Got milk?" and the "I (Heart) NY" ad campaigns. So it's kinda like Mad Men! But without Joan. :( Living Room Theaters.
The Basketball Diaries
Leonardo DiCaprio plays recently deceased author/druggie Jim Carroll in this 1995 adaptation of his book. The Press Club.
The Boys Are Back
See review. Fox Tower 10.
As portrayed in Jane Campion's Bright Star, John Keats (Ben Whishaw)—degree of talent not withstanding—is virtually interchangeable with any modern-day, slacking, would-be musician/artist/DJ/graphic novelist you might meet at the nearest Stumptown Coffee. The thin frame, angelic face, shabby/debonair wardrobe, and ear-framing hair translate as easily to present-day fashion as does Keats' chronic under-employment. True to historical events as the film may be, it's incredibly difficult to sympathize with Keats' heart-wrenching ineligibility to marry his true love, Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish). The only hurdle is his lack of funds, yet he considers it an earnest day's work looking for inspiration by way of dozing on the couch or drifting through a flower garden. It's hard not to be reminded of the well-documented inspirations of manual labor, not to mention the visceral motivational benefits of the occasional well-timed ass kicking. MARJORIE SKINNER Fox Tower 10.
Capitalism: A Love Story
Subtlety has never been Michael Moore's strong point, and his send-up of the capitalist system is no more nuanced than his muckraking in previous films like Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11. Anyone with a leftist bent and a passing familiarity with recent headlines will be versed in Moore's rhetoric here, and Moore's methods haven't changed: He's still fundamentally a schlubby, not-particularly-charismatic screen presence. Yet despite all of this, Capitalism works. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters
China Power: Art Now After Mao
A look at the contemporary superstars of the Chinese art scene, many of whom live "a lifestyle more congruent with New York than the People's Republic of China." Screens as part of the Northwest Film Center's "Lens on China" series. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Classic Concerts: Moogify Me
Brace yourself for a whole bunch of Moog-centric concert footage from the Moody Blues, Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, Yes, and Rush. Clinton Street Theater.
Chance of Meatballs
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 Faris, 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.
The Coney Island Amateur Psychoanalytic Society:
This collection of archival amateur films made by Freud scholars based on their own dreams, a good number of which are silent, explore dream experiences in which a man transforms into a bear (but is afraid to say so out of fear that it would jeopardize newfound attention paid to him by the women who keep him on a leash), men appear in drag, and Coney Island recurs as a backdrop and theme. While the films themselves are odd but forgettable, the context of their creation and the changing society they reflect are worth examining as artifacts. To that end, curator Zoe Beloff will be in attendance to round out the screening with a presentation and discussion. MARJORIE SKINNER Cinema Project Microcinema.
See review. Various Theaters.
A documentary about the battle between the indigenous communities in Ecuador and oil company Chevron. Screens as part of the Northwest Film Center's "Voices in Action: Human Rights on Film" series. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Deep Leap Microcinema
Video art and specially commissioned performances combine in this monthly program "devoted to pairing thematically related film/video programs with cogent, interdisciplinary performance, reading, music, and lecture." More info: deepleap.net. Valentine's.
"My girlfriend still doesn't know why her sweaters are always stretched out." Fifth Avenue Cinema.
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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater, 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.
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 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.
The Invention of Lying
I don't know how best to convey my feelings about Ricky Gervais (it's hard, you see, because I might start crying and never stop), except to say that The Office—and, to a lesser extent, Extras—is THE most perfectly constructed piece of art in my favorite artistic medium, television. Not a single comedic or emotional misstep in the whole goddamn thing. Miraculous. Changed the way I think about comedy. AND LIFE. "Hey, Ricky Gervais, breathe into this rag. Why am I wearing a wedding dress? Shhh. Go to sleep." They're like that. My feelings. (Note: I am not actually a kidnapper and rapist! Ha ha!) So aaanyway, of course I was hoping that The Invention of Lying—Gervais' directorial film debut—would be another masterpiece of impeccable social satire. But it's not. LINDY WEST Various Theaters.
It Might Get Loud
After directing An Inconvenient Truth, Davis Guggenheim turns his lens to guitarists Jimmy Page, the Edge, and Jack White, ostensibly in a film about the guitar. But the framework is pretty flimsy, and it quickly becomes obvious that Guggenheim just wants to hang out with some rockstars. Page and the Edge come off as kindly elderly gentlemen, but White is a pompous ass, wearing silly antique clothes, spontaneously writing a song on camera (it's awful), and even having a kid come onscreen as a child version of himself—so we can watch Big Jack give Little Jack life lessons like how to kick out a piano stool just like Jerry Lee Lewis did. You will learn nothing about the guitar from this movie; all it does is prove that Jimmy Page and the Edge are talented, inventive guitarists, while Jack White has yet to emerge from the shadows of his influences. NED LANNAMANN Laurelhurst Theater.
Night Double Feature
Boxxes' free movie night. This week's selections, which teach us all about the joys of youth: The Goonies and Less Than Zero. Boxxes.
Lord, Save Us From
A documentary that "explores the collision of faith and culture in America." Not screened for critics. Fox Tower 10.
My China Now–Part I
Short films from over 30 Chinese artists and filmmakers. Screens as part of the Northwest Film Center's "Lens on China" series. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
No Impact Man
Seriously, how easy is it to get a book deal these days? Dream up a stunt, stick to it for a period of time (a year seems to be about standard), sign a contract, blog about it, boom, next thing you know you're kickin' it at Morgan Spurlock's Fourth of July BBQ. No Impact Man is a documentary about Colin Beavan, a man who "decided to go off the grid in the middle of Manhattan, giving up electricity and coffee, food grown outside a 150-mile radius, and renounced his car and the subway for a bike." Shockingly, he wrote a book about it. And blogged about it. And now stars in a film about it. Snark aside, No Impact Man will probably inspire you—not to be all hyper-local and Amish or anything, but to come up with your own gimmick that you can parlay into being a multimedia star. Cinema 21.
Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of
A documentary that promises to be "the first detailed examination and celebration of Australian genre cinema of the '70s and '80s." (Mad Max! Mad Max!) Hollywood Theatre.
Wha? Another crappy looking horror flick that wasn't shown to critics? You don't say.... Various Theaters.
See review. Lloyd Center 10 Cinema.
"Ahhh... this is probably going to seem a little strange." 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 Hollywood Theatre.
The Revolution Will Not
The latest in the exhilarating "Kabul to Kandahar Antiwar Progressive Fall Film Fest"! Laughing Horse Books.
Robin Hood: Men in Tights
"LEAVE US ALONE, MEL BROOKS!" Pix Patisserie (North).
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.
See review. Fox Tower 10.
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.
In the Pinochet-terrorized Santiago of 1978, Raúl (Alfredo Castro) is the unsettling protagonist of Tony Manero. Raúl's an aging criminal obsessed with John Travolta's character in Saturday Night Fever, and the film uses his unhealthy connection to draw out the divide between the bright lights, gloss, and glitz of America in the '70s and the gloomy danger of Chile. And when I say "unhealthy," I mean Raúl is a serial killer who will bludgeon whomever necessary to obtain a color TV or the building materials for his own disco floor. Uncannily edited, periodically shocking, and just confusing enough to keep you uncomfortable, this miserable portrait is vile but entrancing. MARJORIE SKINNER Hollywood Theatre.
Story & Toy Story 2
in 3D Double Feature
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 no, it is not narrated by Rihanna. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Ingmar Bergman's 1960 film isn't quite as sexy as its title implies—still, it's playing this week via a brand new 35 mm print, so going to this gives you a chance to atone for drunkenly seeing The Hangover three times. Don't forget your beret and goatee! Clinton Street Theater.
Could Drew Barrymore be any more likeable? No. The answer is no. Submitted for your approval: Barrymore's directorial debut, the criminally enjoyable roller derby teen pic Whip It. Early on, it becomes apparent that Drew and her roller girls are having a blast, body checking and food fighting, which makes for two hours of infectious fun and feel-good eye candy. COURTNEY FERGUSON Various Theaters.
Why Kerala, Grampa?
"What's that about granola? Hell if I know! Go play your MP3 videogames and let me watch Matlock." Ha ha! Ahh. Phew. Easy jokes about bluehairs aside, this is a documentary about the Kerala state in India, "one of the most progressive communities in the world." Screens as part of the Northwest Film Center's "Voices in Action: Human Rights on Film" series; director in attendance. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Outside of monkeys, pirates, and possibly ninjas, is there anything more played out than zombies? Once one of the most metaphorically charged conceits in all of horrordom, the concept of the walking dead has long been run into the ground by sheer repetition. The image of Grandma back from the grave will always carry a bit of a charge, granted, but when even George Romero seems to be running on fumes, it may be time for the genre to shamble over to the corner and have some quiet time. Or, you know, maybe not. The new horror comedy Zombieland somehow rises above the Hot Topic-ization of its subject matter and becomes an absolute, occasionally surreal hoot. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.