The third annual Portland Latin American Film Festival (PDXLAFF) runs through Monday, October 19. All films screen at the Broadway Metroplex. For more info see pdxlaff.org.
Three apathetic, middle-class Mexicans take a road trip from Mexico to NYC to Tijuana in an attempt to feel something for once, man.
A Boyfriend for My Wife
An Argentinean man asks his friend to seduce his wife. Wackiness and soul-searching ensue.
Café de los Maestros
There are a lot of nice moments in this otherwise directionless documentary about artists from Argentina's golden age of tango. If you like sassy old people, you're in luck! DAVE BOW
A Mexican documentary examining the lasting power of Alberto Korda's iconic photograph of Che Guevara.
A schizophrenic, a porn-obsessed lady, and a retired teacher become entangled in each other's lives.
Need proof that Chicago should have won the bid for the 2016 Olympics? This epic copsploitation movie says that Rio de Janeiro is an even bigger black hole of corruption and death. DAVE BOW
Forbidden to Forbid
Three Brazilian students find themselves in a tragic love triangle.
A Chilean romantic comedy for the AARP set.
I'm Going to Explode
This Mexican film has pretty cinematography, two solid performances, and the most exciting first five minutes in the PDXLAFF. Unfortunately, it doesn't have much else besides two rich teens making goo-goo eyes. The moments of genuine beauty on display are nice, but the tedium is more memorable. DAVE BOW
The true stories of captives tortured by Colombian guerillas are gripping. That fact makes the hackneyed melodrama La Milagrosa all the more frustrating. This film rubs your face in the bloody horrors of war without understanding what it's supposedly mourning. DAVE BOW
Once Upon a Time in Rio...
Two people from different prejudiced groups love each other. That always works out in movies, right?
A collection of adaptations based on the works of esteemed Mexican author Juan Rulfo.
Soda Stereo Tour: You Will
A concert film of Argentina's enduring rock band Soda Stereo.
This rock doc is really beautifully shot and edited. If you're not a fan of Zoé's music, you'll get bored pretty quick, but aspiring documentarians should take note. DAVE BOW
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 Living Room 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.
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.
At the Edge of the World
See Film, this issue. Clinton Street Theater.
and the Beast
Jean Cocteau's surreal, dreamlike 1946 picture was the best film version of the familiar fairy tale until Fran Drescher's 1997 masterpiece The Beautician and the Beast. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
A Brazilian film about human rights, an indigenous population on the brink of extinction, and birds! Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
The Boys Are Back
Joe (Clive Owen) is an Australian sportswriter with a wife, two sons, and a predictably muscular prose style, like a cross between Frank Bascombe and Don Draper. When his wife dies, Joe is left sole custodian of his young son Artie (Nicholas McAnulty). The two are soon joined by Harry (George MacKay), Joe's son from a previous marriage, a Ron Weasley-looking teen with severe daddy issues. Joe's house quickly becomes a no-rules zone, surfaces piling with unwashed clothes and the remnants of last week's meals—all thanks to Joe's "just say yes" parenting style. It's women, we learn, who stand between men and fully actualized fun, with their "rules" and their "saying no." Luckily for fun, there aren't too many women in The Boys Are Back. (There is a naggy ghost wife, but she doesn't materialize too often.) Of course, soon enough the shit hits the fan, flinging little dollops of life lesson all over the audience. ALISON HALLETT 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.
The Cat and the Canary
Paul Leni's 1927 silent haunted house thriller/comedy, accompanied by live organ music. Tabor Heights United Methodist Church.
Classic Concerts: Rock and Roll Ain't Noise
Clips from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, including Judas Priest, Motorhead, Iron Maiden, and Ozzy Osbourne with Randy Rhodes. Clinton Street Theater.
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 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.
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 Living Room Theaters.
This week in middle-class wish-fulfillment fantasies, it's Couples Retreat, featuring Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, Sex and the City's Kristin Davis, Veronica Mars, and a credibility-smashing turn from Arrested Development's Jason Bateman! Couples Retreat opens with a montage that could be entitled "Straight Couples Through the Ages," set with a dismaying lack of both creativity and irony to "Modern Love" (Bowie, you whore). The ensuing two-hour homage to heterosexual values (as defined in 1953) is somehow both more boring and more offensive than either the film's opening credits or the (already fairly offensive) trailer could have predicted. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
See Film, this issue. Living Room Theaters.
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.
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.
The Freeheel Life
Telemark Skier magazine presents footage of dudes on skis and snowboards. Not to be confused with Skidmark Skier magazine's The Shitheel Life. Nest Lounge.
"Kitten, I think what I'm saying is that sometimes, shit happens, someone has to deal with it, and who ya gonna call?" Pix Patisserie (North).
Grindhouse Film Fest: 36th Chamber of Shaolin
See Film, this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
Grindhouse Film Fest: Shaolin vs. Lama
See Film, this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
An Homage to the Home Movie
Did you know Saturday, October 17 was International Home Movie Day? A program of short films that either re-use or pay homage to home video. Sadly, Bob Saget will not be hosting. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Armando Iannucci's In the Loop is a foreign-born freak of a movie, a bizarre amalgamation of broad humor and pointed political satire. Using an Office-esque mocumentary style, In the Loop careens through the halls of power in the days leading up to the Iraq War, as British and US politicians negotiate idealism and opportunism in a tense political climate. None of this makes for revelatory satire, but in Iannucci's hands, it's relentlessly entertaining nonetheless. ALISON HALLETT Living Room 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 City Center 12, Hollywood Theatre.
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 Picture Show
Boxxes' free movie night. This week's selections feature carefree hippie Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider and scary psycho Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet. Boxxes.
Law Abiding Citizen
See Film, this issue. Various Theaters.
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.
Magnificent Obsession: Frank Lloyd Wright's Buildings and
Legacy in Japan
Would you believe that this documentary is about famed architect I.M. Pei's buildings and legacy in Nova Scotia? Well, it's not. It's actually about... oh, you can probably guess. Screening as part of the Architecture + Design Festival. More info: aiaportland.com AIA Portland.
More Than a Game
A not-screened-for-critics documentary about the "Fab Five," the group of high school basketball players in Akron, Ohio, one of whom you might've heard of—LeBron James. Fox Tower 10.
Moulin Rouge Chanson-Along
Get it? Chanson-along? It's like "sing-along," but en Français! Well, sort of! Halfway! Good times, good times, though, that's for sure! It's always good times with Moulin Rouge, especially when we get to chanson along! Hey, that reminds me, who else wants to chew on some razor blades? These ones are kinda rusty, but they should do fine. I got some Drano we can wash 'em down with, too! Good times. Good times! Bagdad Theater.
Jean Cocteau's 1949 take on the Greek legend. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Wha? Another crappy looking horror flick that wasn't shown to critics? You don't say.... Division Street.
Writer/director Oren Peli's single-set calling card of a ghost story is clever, unbearably tense, and, above all, relentless—a Blair Witch Project that doesn't skimp on the money shots. Much like that film, the combination of jittery handheld cameras, no-profile actors, and a lack of dudes in rubber suits will no doubt turn off a significant portion of the audience in the mood for something overt. For those in a more suggestible frame of mind, however, Peli's method of imbuing everyday objects with an atmosphere of ball-crawling dread is really something to see. It doesn't let up. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
See Film, this issue. Cinema 21.
Poltergeist 2: The Other Side
"They're baa-aack." Starring Coach and that cute/creepy little blonde girl. 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.
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 City Center 12, Fox Tower 10.
Not to be all depressing about it, but life is shitty, and we're all going to die. Such is the depressing-as-fuck truth we're reminded of in the Coen Brothers' latest, which tells us that family and religion and work will always control us, and while they are beautiful, necessary things, often and ultimately, they are useless. And yet despite all of this—and I probably should have mentioned this sooner—A Serious Man is one of the funnier movies you're going to see this year. You will laugh loudly and frequently, which is a hell of thing, considering you'll walk out of the theater feeling like you've been ground into an oily paste. ERIK HENRIKSEN Fox Tower 10.
A PG-13 horror flick about about—you guessed it!—a sinister stepfather! Let's take this opportunity to reflect, for a moment, on exactly how lazy Hollywood can be, shall we? Various Theaters.
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.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
"You broke my arm!" "There's 215 bones in the human body. That's one." Fifth Avenue Cinema.
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.
PCC instructor Greg Kerr produced this locally made Memento-style thriller about "a man who has no past." Screens with Kerr in attendance. Living Room Theaters.
the Wild Things Are
See Film, this issue. Various Theaters.
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.
A documentary about the workers at Beijing's World Park, which sounds like the awesomest place on Earth: "A bizarre cross-cultural melange of Las Vegas and Epcot Center." Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
I don't know how good your Spanish is, but the title of this movie totally just insulted you. The Press Club.
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.