Almonds and Raisins
A 1984 documentary about "the dozens of Yiddish-language films made in the United States and Europe between the release of The Jazz Singer in 1927 and the outbreak of World War II." Neveh Shalom.
This biopic of Amelia Earhart (Hilary Swank) splices together scenes from her final, fateful flight around the world--during which she disappeared over the Pacific Ocean--with a linear narrative of her personal life. This lesser-known side of her existence centers around what began as a business relationship with George Putnam (Richard Gere), who she later married, and his management of her career, which involved as many corny, disingenuous promo spots and personal appearances as possible in order to finance her flights. But even with the added affair Earhart has with Gene Vidal (a greasy, grinning Ewan McGregor), there’s not much going on in Mira Nair’s film to care about: Earhart’s flights and her promotion of opportunities for women in aviation are interesting achievements, but some of the in-flight drama is obviously manufactured, and piloting isn’t much of a spectator sport to begin with. Amelia does have some great sets, costumes, and beautiful airplanes, as well as a nerve wracking final scene (but you knew that), but it lacks any emotional hook, leaving you neither saddened nor particularly inspired. MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters.
Army of Darkness
"Don't touch that, please. Your primitive intellect wouldn't understand alloys and... compositions... and things with... molecular structures." Living Room Theaters
See review. Various Theaters.
See review. Living Room Theaters.
It's a story you haven't heard before—because it hasn't been told. Simply gathering enough footage for this 85-minute feature was a life-threatening task for the Democratic Voice of Burma, a band of reporters working covertly to document and disseminate evidence of their government's brutality. Director Anders Østergaard pieces together their shaky, lo-fi recordings into a chronicle of Burma's democratic protests in 2007. Forgive the reenactments that fill in gaps in the narrative, and immerse yourself in the bigger picture: Just the fact that you get to see this is a feat. Screens as part of the Northwest Film Center's "Voices in Action: Human Rights on Film" series. JANE CARLEN Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
A night of cinema that attempts to revive "vintage films with live scores composed and performed by local music collectives." Featuring two films (1934's The Furies and 1993's The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb), with music by Eat Skull. For more info and to RSVP for free admission: myopenbar.com/cinema16. Cinema 21.
Cirque du Freak:
The Vampire's Assistant
See review. Various Theaters.
Classic Concerts: Peace Train
Concert footage of James Taylor! Cat Stevens! Simon & Garfunkel! ROCK WITH YOUR COCK OUT! Clinton Street Theater.
Coco Before Chanel
See review. Fox Tower 10.
An absolute must-see for anyone with an interest in the history of either the Trail Blazers or Portland itself, Fast Break comprises footage shot during the Blazers' legendary 1977 championship season. Much of the documentary is devoted to chronicling how Bill Walton spent his time off the court—which, because the man was a giant (literally) hippie, involved a lot of bike riding down the 101 and clambering through the woods picking blackberries. There's also a ton of great archival footage of the absolute frenzy that surrounded the team during that period, filtered of course through Portland's own hippie sensibility—a scene of a huge crowd singing a "Rip City" ballad as a folksinger strums on an acoustic guitar is particularly classic. Co-director and cinematographer Mike McLeod and writer Larry Colton in attendance on Sun Oct 25. ALISON HALLETT Clinton Street Theater.
See review. Lloyd Mall 8.
Grindhouse Film Fest:
Fatal Flying Guillotine
It's a kung fu movie. It has flying guillotines in it. YOU DON'T NEED TO KNOW ANYTHING ELSE. Hollywood Theatre.
See Feature. Cinema 21.
In the Shadow of the Temple
A doc about "shadow Mormons"—"men and women who do not believe the teachings of the church but publicly profess to be true believers." Narrated by Donny and Marie Osmond. Hollywood Theatre.
A documentary about those who have survived the regimes of North Korean rulers Kim Jong Il and his father, Kim Il Sung. Screens as part of the Northwest Film Center's "Voices in Action: Human Rights on Film" series. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Before he rose to nerd fame as Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Professor Charles Xavier, Patrick Stewart got suckered into director Tobe Hooper's schlocky space vampire flick Lifeforce! Laurelhurst Theater.
Lord, Save Us From
A documentary that "explores the collision of faith and culture in America." Not screened for critics. Laurelhurst Theater.
Jean-Luc Godard's 1966 drama. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
Michael Jackson's This Is It
Look everybody! It's Jacko's reanimated corpse, herking and jerking around on the big screen in order to make his business associates a few million bucks! Pick up next week's Mercury for our review. Various Theaters.
The Monster That Challenged the World
1957's sci-fi flick—with the sound turned off so that comedians Don Alder, Eric Hull, Rob Sample, and Victoria Pohl can "provide their own voices, music, and sound effects live." Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
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.
My China Now–Part II
Sixteen works from Chinese filmmakers. Screens as part of the Northwest Film Center's "Lens on China" series.
One Fast Move or I'm Gone: Kerouac's Big Sur
See review. Cinema 21.
A locally produced documentary about young undocumented immigrants in America. Not screened for critics. Living Room Theaters.
Writer/director Cédric Klapisch is best known for 2002's L'Auberge Espanole, a study-abroad sex romp beloved by foreign exchange students worldwide. While L'Auberge and its sequel, Les Poupées Russes, are largely concerned with the existential and romantic crises of the young and pretty, Paris broadens that scope to examine the existential and romantic crises of the young-to-middle aged (and pretty). Paris is as ambitious as its title suggests: Klapisch attempts to present a microcosm of the city itself, a sort of cinematic snow globe populated by characters connected by blood, friendship, proximity, and commerce. But while Paris works just fine as a sexy melodrama that's philosophical and slutty at the same time, it never quite lives up to the all-encompassing promise of its title. ALISON HALLETT Hollywood Theatre.
Skiing and snowboarding porn. Aladdin Theater.
The Rural Studio
A doc about "a design-build architecture lab" that allowed students to design and construct buildings in a depressed Alabama community. AIA Portland.
Fucking A. There are six of these fucking things now? Fucking seriously? Various Theaters.
In the mood for some sweet R&B dance party action? Who isn't, right?! Unfortunately, you're out of luck. This is a documentary about North Korean refugees. Red E Cafe.
Straightlaced: How Gender's
Got Us All Tied Up
A documentary about the "harmful pressures caused by rigid gender roles and homophobia" in American high schools. Cinema 21.
Suck My Flick Film Night
A night of homemade short films (10 minutes or less). More info: portlandfilm.org. Alberta Street Public House.
See review. Hollywood Theatre.
Warren Miller's Dynasty
Another year, another Warren Miller ski porno. Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.
The Way We Get By
Elderly volunteers Joan Gaudet, Bill Knight, and Gerald "Gerry" Mundy are among a group that journeys at all hours to the Bangor, Maine airport, to greet troops returning from tours of duty. Director Aron Gaudet deftly sidesteps the quagmire of pro vs. anti-war politics (the greeters, many veterans themselves, are unquestionably patriotic, but question the current combat) and instead slowly, gently unpacks three lives in their twilight years. Though the film may be better suited to the small screen (where it premieres on PBS' P.O.V. next month), it achieves striking intimacy without judgment or pity. JANE CARLEN Hollywood Theatre.