The Northwest Film Center's series collects "the most internationally acclaimed Japanese films of the past two years." All films screen at the Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium. More info: nwfilm.org.
Achilles and the Tortoise
Takeshi Kitano stars in and directs in his third autobiographical "exploration of the plight of the performer artist."
A middle-aged man "finds solace in fantasy at night with an inflatable female doll"—who comes to life whenever he leaves the house! (Hmm. CoughMANNEQUINcough.)
The Clone Returns Home
"Space, time, and memory mingle in a Tarkovskian world with echoes of Buddhist beliefs in reincarnation and recurrence." Just like in Attack of the Clones!
The Dark Harbor
A lonely fisherman adopts a woman and a child who have been secretly living in his closet. Goddamn. Japanese people are weird.
Kabei: Our Mother
The latest from director Yôji Yamada (The Twilight Samurai), Kabei is set in Tokyo in 1940, and focuses on "the strong bond between a mother and her family during WWII."
Sapporo Anime Shorts
Animated shorts from the Sapporo International Short Film Festival.
A drama that digs into the secrets kept in a "seemingly tidy Japanese family unit." (SPOILER ALERT: One of them is a clone! Who's been secretly living in their closet!)
2009 British Television Advertising Awards
See review. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Archives of the Fantastic
A locally produced documentary "about cosplay and finding your inner alter ego." Nope. No nerds here. No siree. Invasion Cafe and Nightclub.
A heist flick starring Matt Dillon, Jean Reno, Laurence Fishburne, and, um, Fred Ward. Not screened for critics. Various Theaters.
Back to the Garden
Do you know what a hippie is? Have you ever talked to one? If you answered "No" to both questions, then you will doubtlessly find Back to the Garden engrossing. Catching up with people he met at a "healing gathering" in 1988, filmmaker Kevin Tomlinson treats the hippie lifestyle like something not only new, but revolutionary. In its 70 minutes, we learn how old hippies feel about money, the earth, and marijuana. Can you guess their answers? DAVE BOW Clinton Street Theater.
Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day
The sequel to 1999's beloved/derided cult crime flick. Not screened for critics. Various Theaters.
A drama starring Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Natalie Portman, and directed by Jim Sheridan (In the Name of the Father, My Left Foot, Get Rich or Die Tryin'). Not screened in time for press; hit portlandmercury.com on Friday, December 4 for our review. Various Theaters.
See review. Cinema 21.
The End of Poverty?
A documentary that "asks why today 20 percent of the planet's population uses 80 percent of its resources and consumes 30 percent more than the planet can regenerate." Um, you should probably bring your calculator, I guess? Director Philippe Diaz in attendance for shows on Saturday, December 5. Living Room Theaters.
See review. Various Theaters.
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Fantastic Mr. Fox—despite the fact it's filmed via stop-motion animation—feels very much like Wes Anderson's other movies, which means if you're the sort of person who likes to scoff at Anderson, you will find plenty of justification to do so after seeing Fox. But to complain that the film is just more of the same overlooks the pretty crucial fact that, well, that "same" is pretty extraordinary: The reason Anderson's style is so immediately recognizable and so open to criticism is because it's so original, so earnest, and so finely tuned. The funny, charming Fox isn't Anderson's best film, but it might be his most fully realized. Via stop-motion animation, the meticulous Anderson revels in a level of control that's any OCD sufferer's dream. Anderson's films have always displayed his near-psychopathic obsession with the tiniest of details, from the patterns of background wallpaper to the exacting typefaces in his credit sequences; with Fox, he's created an entire miniature world, and it's hardly surprising that his cast of witty woodland creatures wear only the finest corduroy and tweed. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Found Footage Festival
Think of the Found Footage Festival as YouTube, but with only the good videos. In this traveling roadshow, two unassuming guys play lost film clips, make fun of said clips, and repeat the process until you physically ache from fits of laughter. The FFF has cemented the legacy of founders Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher as a pair of brave historians of the murky underworld of thrift store VHS tapes—a pair of fearless explorers who troll the depths of castaway training videos, odd exercise tapes, and home movies, searching for that elusive, brilliant, long-lost gem of footage. See My, What a Busy Week! EZRA ACE CARAEFF Laurelhurst Theater.
House of the Devil
See review. 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 Bagdad Theater, Laurelhurst Theater, Mission Theater.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
The 1956 version of the alien invasion paranoia tale. Bagdad Theater.
See review. Fox Tower 10.
See review. Fox Tower 10.
A Brazilian boy deals with the "uncertainties of the adult world." (Like porn and stuff, we assume.) Screens as part of Global Lens series. Hollywood Theatre.
My Time Will Come
An Ecuadorian coroner "develops a personal interest in his cases." (EW.) Screens as part of Global Lens series. Hollywood Theatre.
Nightmare Before Christmas
See My, What a Busy Week! Bagdad Theater.
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
Co-produced by Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry, the awkwardly titled Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire is this year's feel-good-by-feeling-bad Oscar bait: a relentlessly sordid bit of ghetto tourism that invites audiences to wallow in unimaginable misery for 110 minutes, only to emerge from their cinematic journey more enlightened, more aware, more... human. (Thanks, Oprah!) ALISON HALLETT Fox Tower 10, Lloyd Mall 8.
Arriving after delays and rumors of recuts, the long-awaited cinematic version of Cormac McCarthy's 2006 Pulitzer-winning, Oprah-approved, post-apocalyptic saga The Road comes off as a non-starter; an honorable, respectful, well-acted adaptation that feels curiously inert. All the beats are there—with the exception of a few of the most notoriously grisly bits—but the chaos seems a little too orderly. ANDREW WRIGHT Fox Tower 10.
San Yuan Li
"Twelve artists present a highly stylized portrait of... a traditional village besieged by China's urban sprawl." Screens as part of the Northwest Film Center's Lens on China series. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Sundance Shorts Festival
A program of 10 short films that screened at last year's Sundance Film Festival. Hollywood Theatre.
From the director of Piñata: Survival Island comes this comedy in which "a group of college students embarks on a wild, sexy, and outrageous semester abroad" in Transylvania. This film was not screened for critics, perhaps because it appears to be fucking awful. Various Theaters.