Film Shorts 


OPENING

THE BIG TEASE- Cinema 21

THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL- Hollywood Theatre

DIVINE TRASH- Clinton Street Theatre

GONE IN 60 SECONDS- 82nd Avenue

A PERSONAL JOURNEY WITH MARTIN SCORSESE THROUGH AMERICAN MOVIES- Northwest Film Center @The Guild Theater

WINTER SLEEPERS- Cinema 21


MOVIES & EVENTS

*American Movie
A documentary about the trials and tribulations of a poor, midwestern guy laboring under the burden of a heavy mullet. Needless to say, it rocks. Laurelhurst Theater

American Psycho
Based on the much-reviled book by Bret Easton Ellis, the movie is actually pretty good. Really. Set at the height of the Reagan '80s, Psycho deftly satirizes the deadening effect of unchecked corporate wealth and power. (Andy Spletzer) Bagdad Theater, Kennedy School Theatre, Laurelhurst Theater

The Big Kahuna
Kahuna, starring Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito as a couple of crappy salesmen, is a play adaptation, which means that the filmmakers face the eternal challenge: how to make three people talking for 90 minutes into an actual movie. They fail. The problem isn't the subject matter, your basic wounded-business-male confessional boilerplate nor the performances, which are pretty good (even DeVito manages a few affecting moments). No, the problem is the inherent pomposity of American theater; the degree to which playwrights are so enamored of their own language that they simply refuse to say what the hell they're saying. In this case, it's that even industrial-lubricant salesmen can retain a shred of humanity if they allow themselves to shed their reflexive bullshit bluster. Despite about 20 excellent minutes toward the end, the movie's not worth the ride it takes to get to the point. (Sean Nelson) Movie House

Big Momma's House
Martin Lawrence is back, and he's got a big old prosthetic ass. Where do I sign? 82nd Avenue, Broadway Metroplex, City Center 12, Division Street, HillTop, Lloyd Mall, Movies on TV, Tigard Cinemas, Vancouver Plaza, Westgate

The Big Tease
The boss from The Drew Carey Show makes a movie where he plays a Scottish hairdresser. What was he thinking? Cinema 21

Bossa Nova
Watching this simple tale of a small group of people becoming entangled with one another is a task of sweet, comic relaxation. Set against the shocking mountains of Rio De Janeiro, everything leads to romance in this Latin film; everyone and everything is beautiful. Even the hospital room has a sweeping view of the Brazilian coast. The strong acting proves this story's good nature. (Paula Gilovich) Movie House

Center Stage
Teenybopper dance movies are such a delicate, easily bruised genre that it hardly seems fair to judge them using the unwieldy tools of the critic. Center Stage, Hollywood's newest celebration of dance ("Dance!"), offers the usual story of underdog versus system, the strictures of ballet versus the creativity of modern dance, and love expressed via high art. It's campy, it's corny, and it's the feel-good movie of the year. (Traci Vogel) Century Eastport 16, Clackamas Town Center, Lloyd Mall

The Cider House Rules
Lasse Hallstrom's understanding that our decisions are hardly ever black or white makes him a keen choice for director of his latest project, an adaptation of John Irving's The Cider House Rules. A sprawling homage to David Copperfield, the story charts the maturation of beloved orphan Homer Wells (Toby Maguire), who learns about the crushing ambiguities of living from several unique characters, foremost among them the paternal Dr. Wilbur Larch (Michael Caine), the orphanage director who doubles as the town's clandestine, caring abortionist. It's unusual for a major film release to touch on the subject of abortion, let alone with the plainspoken grace that Hallstrom and Irving (adapting his own work) bring to the material. Though Irving's adaptation has integrity, it is unable to envelop us with the dazzling juggling of years and characters that makes the book such a luminous accomplishment, and this limited scope is a weakness that mars an otherwise touching film. Avalon Theatre

Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Back when Steven Spielberg wasn't such a hack, he created this sweeping epic where aliens visit earth and have absolutely no interest in anal probes. Starring Richard Dreyfuss as the befuddled mashed potato sculpter. Hollywood Theatre

Cotton Mary
I recommend Cotton Mary only to aspiring filmmakers; watch it and you will see all the things you shouldn't do when making your big picture. Invert all of the errors (the sappy story, the shameless motives, the poor direction, the over- and under-acting) and you will instantly have a masterpiece. (Charles Mudede) Koin Center

*Croupier
A croupier (you know, the guy who runs the roulette wheel) gets sucked into the world of crime in this pulp-noirish thriller. Koin Center

The Day the Earth Stood Still
One of the greatest sci-fi flicks of all time! A perfectly nice alien comes to earth to warn us about the evils of nuclear power, and we treat him like a plate of day-old gravy. That fuckin' SUCKS! Hollywood Theatre

Dinosaur
A heroic muddle of pre-history, computer animation, and talking monkeys, this entertaining flicker posits that dinosaurs might have survived if only they'd learned to work together. If you're the kind of person who wished Jurassic Park had dispensed with all that plot and character crap and just made with the giant reptiles, this might be the one for you. Century Eastport 16, City Center 12, Clackamas Town Center, Division Street, HillTop, Lake Twin Cinema, Lloyd Mall, Movies on TV, Tigard Cinemas, Vancouver Plaza, Westgate

*Divine Trash
An award-winning documentary of the crackpot art of director John Waters and his leading star/starlet Divine. See review this issue. Clinton Street Theatre

Erin Brockovich
Despite having been directed by indie superstar Steven Soderbergh, Erin Brockovich is just what it is: another big-budget Hollywood film starring Julia Roberts. In fact, because this is a Hollywood film, we suddenly notice aspects of Soderbergh's filmmaking that are harder to detect when he has complete control over his material: namely, how brilliant he is working with supporting actors, most notably men. In this case, it's Aaron Eckhart and Albert Finney. Without this, all you have left is a stupid plot and the dentiglorious spectacle that is Julia Roberts. (Charles Mudede) Avalon Theatre, Eastgate, Laurelhurst Theater

*The Filth and the Fury
Julien Temple (The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle) compiled this portrait of the infamous Sex Pistols, with exclusive interviews with Johnny Rotten, Steve Jones, Paul Cook, Glen Matlock, and of course Sid Vicious. Includes boatloads of unseen live footage, and an amazing capacity to energize even the most cynical viewer. Odds are that if you have preconceptions about the band, they'll at least be tested, especially once you've seen the images of Johnny Rotten serving up slices of cake to needy working-class kids on Christmas Day, 1977, or crying over the death of his mate, Sid. (Sean Nelson) Hollywood Theatre

Frequency
A hodgepodge about time travel; ham-radio enthusiasm; the hazards of firefighting; baseball; mother love; and a father-son tag-team tracking down a nurse-butchering psychopath. This utterly confused film is a perfect example of Hollywood's shameless tendency to pillage the graveyard for the spare parts of its own schmaltzy genres. The result is a Frankenstein monster that bumbles and stumbles across the thin emotional terrain of an Americanized (and therefore totally false) idea of nostalgia and redemption. (Rick Levin) City Center 12, Division Street, Eastgate, Lloyd Cinemas, Movies on TV, Tigard Cinemas

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
When he was young, Ghost Dog (Forest Whitaker) was saved from a group of street thugs by Louie (John Tormey), a low-level Mafioso who just happened to be passing by. In thanks, Ghost Dog pledged to serve Louie for the rest of his life, as faithful to him as any ancient samurai was to his master. Director Jim Jarmusch infuses Ghost Dog with the deadpan humor of his earliest films. (Charles Mudede) Laurelhurst Theater

*Gladiator
Director Ridley Scott tramps through the standard gladiator movie plot like a tipsy party host, embracing each and every clichè like a dear old friend. War hero General Maximus (Russell Crowe) is stripped of his position by a scheming new Caesar (Joaquin Phoenix). Escaping too late to save his family, Maximus falls into the hands of a slaver (the late Oliver Reed), and with the help of a former love and his rough-but-likable gladiator pals, seeks his revenge by finding glory within the Coliseum. Scott then uses all the technical advantages of modern filmmaking to make the details as lavish as possible. (Tom Spurgeon) Broadway Metroplex, Century Eastport 16, City Center 12, Clackamas Town Center, Division Street, HillTop, Lloyd Cinemas, Movies on TV, Tigard-Joy Theater, Vancouver Plaza, Westgate

God's Army
It's bad enough the goddam Mormons get to have as many wives as they want; do they have to make films, too?!? Century Eastport 16, Movies on TV, Vancouver Plaza

Gone in 60 Seconds
You've seen the trailer, now see the remake of this obscure car-thief movie, which has been revamped and given the full Bruckheimer treatment (shame a bunch of good actors with massive paychecks so your crappy film has the patina of class). Big, red, fast, and loud-Kids'll love it! 82nd Avenue, Broadway Metroplex, City Center 12, Division Street, HillTop, Lloyd Cinemas, Movies on TV, Tigard Cinemas, Vancouver Plaza

*High Findelity
A romantic comedy for guys. John Cusack plays the cynically introspective Rob Gordon, the owner of a small record store who, for various reasons, has shit luck with women. He's a jerk, basically, but he's not altogether clueless about his jerkiness. He struggles and obsesses and makes lists that he thinks define his life, but he's no closer to understanding women than he was in the fifth grade-which happens to be when he got dumped for the first time. Based on the popular novel of the same name. (Kathleen Wilson) Century Eastport 16, Koin Center, Lloyd Cinemas, Washington Square Center

*Keeping the Faith
Any film that begins with a drunken priest staggering through the streets of New York and tumbling into a garbage pile is automatically fine by me. Edward Norton (who also directed) is the drunky priest and Ben Stiller is a confused rabbi. They love the same girl, a rad chick they hung out with back in the fourth grade. The film is genuinely funny and sweetly romantic as it focuses on all aspects of this not-so-holy trinity. And surprisingly enough, co-star Jenna Elfman doesn't bug. (Kathleen Wilson) Laurelhurst Theater

*Mission Impossible 2
I loved this movie. I loved the vertiginous helicopter swoops as Tom Cruise scales an impossibly sheer cliff to receive his impossible mission. I loved the profligate back flips in the fight choreography as he takes out villain after glass-jawed villain. I loved the preposterous motorcycle chase/joust. I loved the human touches, too: the love triangle set against the backdrop of global intrigue; the lascivious slo-mo close-ups of Thandie Newton; the villain's Scots accent. But most of all, I loved the giddy sense of hyperbole and spectacle that coarsed through the whole enterprise. It may not last too long after the credits roll, but pleasures like this aren't meant to. Otherwise, they wouldn't need to make part 3. (Sean Nelson) Broadway Metroplex, Century Eastport 16, City Center 12, Clackamas Town Center, Division Street, HillTop, Lake Twin Cinema, Lloyd Cinemas, Moreland Theater, Movies on TV, Tigard Cinemas, Vancouver Plaza, Westgate

Mission to Mars
Mission to Mars is exactly what the ads look like: a misty-eyed and misty-headed sci-fi tale so proud of its naive, half-baked ideas about heroism, honor, and The Meaning of It All, it never realizes what a thoroughly dull and predictable mess it is. Director Brian De Palma, the professional, can't help but pull off the suspense scenes with flair, and they offer the few lively moments. But De Palma, the cynic, should've used his slasher expertise to eviscerate the script. (Bruce Reid) Mission Theater

My Dog Skip
The movie that had Good Morning America's Joel Siegel "sitting up and begging for more." Based on the late Willie Morris' coming-of-age memoir in a sleepy Mississippi town during World War II. Avalon Theatre, Kennedy School Theatre

*A Personal Journey with martin Scorsese Through American Movies
Join our favorite cinematic tour guide, director Martin Scorsese, as he takes us on a journey through world film. See review this issue. Northwest Film Center @The Guild Theater

Return to Me
A guy (David Duchovny) falls for a girl (Minnie Driver) who has received his dead wife's heart in a transplant. No, really. Eastgate

The Road to El Dorado
From the people who brought you a big piece of cartoon crap (The Prince of Egypt), comes yet another similarly big piece of cartoon crap. (Traci Vogel) Avalon Theatre, Bagdad Theater

Road Trip
Road Trip takes the 15-minute road-trip sequence from Animal House and expands it to feature length. In this case, "University of Ithaca" college student Josh (Breckin Meyer) accidentally mails his long-distance girlfriend Tiffany a videotape of him having sex with another woman, forcing him and a trio of college buddies to drive 1,800 miles to recover the tape and save his relationship. Relating the tale of this Odyssean quartet is Benny (Tom Green), the first unreliable narrator figure in what must be the first humanist teen sex comedy. Why "humanist"? This genre of comedy is generally predicated on fear and repulsion toward "the other." This movie parades a sea of creepy or scary archetypes past its travelers (the only one missing is a predatory homosexual)- and then allows them nuanced responses. The foot-fetishist and food molester are just creepy, but the large, horny black woman is allowed a dose of humanity, as is the likable, boner-bearing grandpa. Josh's sidekick E. L. (Seann William Scott) discovers the joys of prostate stimulation, while dorky Kyle (DJ Qualls) wins over an all-black frat house with his dancing before bedding the aforementioned BBW. Repulsion executes a complicated dance with attraction, and we (and by we, I mean oversexed, underaged boys) emerge from the movie theater better people for it. (Eric Fredericksen) Century Eastport 16, City Center 12, Clackamas Town Center, Division Street, Hill Top, Lloyd Mall, Movies on TV, Tigard Cinemas, Vancouver Plaza, Westgate

Rules of Engagement
When a movie is titled Rules of Engagement, I'm there. Too bad this one implodes like a giant star after a promising start. The performances of Samuel L. Jackson, Tommy Lee Jones, Blair Underwood, Guy Pearce, and Anne Archer are sucked into the resulting black hole. In the end, we are left with nothing-absolutely nothing. (Charles Mudede) Avalon Theatre, Laurelhurst Theater, Mission Theater

Shanghai Noon
Even the presence of Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson can't save this revisionist Western action comedy from the musty odor of the second-rate. Its plot unfolds like a fifth-generation Xerox. Some princess has to be saved from some clumpy, labor-driven railroad/mining concern, and the male leads must shed their current roles and embrace new, dimly-conceived identities. Wilson and his co-star are to be credited for occasionally rising above the material, but there are much better ways to spend a summer afternoon. (Tom Spurgeon) 82nd Avenue, City Center 12, Division Street, HillTop, Lloyd Mall, Movies on TV, Vancouver Plaza, Washington Square Center

Small Time Crooks
Woody Allen's 2000 entry is one of his unambitious, hoping-only-to-amuse movies. Too bad it's unoriginal, not very amusing, and a near waste of some of this world's greatest comic talent: Tracey Ullman, Elaine May, and Jon Lovitz. Allen casts himself against type as Ray, a poor dopey schlub married to an equally dim former exotic dancer, Frenchie (Ullman). He plans an ambitious bank heist--he and some buddies will buy a storefront two doors down from a bank and run a cookie shop as a front while tunnelling underground to reach the bank vault. The heist is a flop, but Frenchie's amazing cookies turn the front operation into a multi--million dollar business. At this point, a series of tired themes--money can't buy happiness or sophistication or taste, you know-clamp down on the movie, the plot conveys some typical twists, and the movie ends. (Eric Fredericksen) Century Eastport 16, Cinemagic, Tigard Cinemas

*The Southerner
Adapted from a novel, William Faulkner's screenplay is produced by Jean Renoir. The story chronicles a poor Texan farmer trying to earn a living by growing cotton on a derelict farm. Abstract, arty, and engaging. Northwest Film Center @The Guild Theater

*Sunset Blvd.
After 50 years, Sunset Blvd. is still regarded as a classic of the American cinema. Don't miss this opportunity to see Billy Wilder's directorial masterpiece in pristine condition. Koin Center

The Talented Mr. Ripley
Matt Damon is typecast as a loveable psychopath who falls in love with the life of Dickie Greenwood (played by the fantastic Jude Law). Fifth Avenue Cinema

Time Code
The screen is cut into quadrants. Four films on one screen. No editing. Story takes place in Hollywood; is about Hollywood. No script. Cast wears synchronized digital watches. Fortunately, the experiment is founded on a formidable story--the four films unfolding simultaneously onscreen are all facets of one large narrative, dealing with the quotidian emotional reality of showbiz folk. (Paula Gilovich) Koin Center

Topsy-Turvey
Mike Leigh's tribute to the music of Gilbert & Sullivan. Hollywood Theatre, Laurelhurst Theater

U-571
One of the most important turning points in World War II was the Allied capture of the German code machine, Enigma. U-571 is an attempt to show us modern folks what this dramatic event must have been like. The only thing not historically accurate is the damn story. A British destroyer was responsible for capturing the machine, not Matthew McConaughey! Better you should watch Das Boot. (Juan-Carlos Rodriguez) Century Eastport 16, HillTop, Lloyd Cinemas, Movies on TV, Washington Square Center

Up at the Villa
Sean Penn and Kristin Scott Thomas star as ill-fated lovers in the newest entry in the sex-leads-to-tragedy-leads-to-a-woman's-self-knowledge genre, based on the novel by W. Somerset Maugham. The fine supporting cast includes Anne Bancroft, Derek Jacobi, the great Sir James Fox, Jeremy Davies, and the dappled flora of Tuscany. City Center 12

The Virgin Suicides
The most consistent element of The Virgin Suicides is a steady stream of images that echo the feminine-hygiene commercials of the 1970s. Considering the material-five teenage sisters growing up in a repressive home and headed for funerals rather than graduations-the lightness of touch is surprising. But to juxtapose suicide with buoyant innocence might be uniquely appropriate; if the film has a message, it seems to be that a mythologized purity of youth can't survive into adulthood. (Monica Drake) Koin Center

Where the Heart Is
Attention Wal-Mart shoppers! Natalie Portman is giving birth on aisle 3! Clackamas Town Center, Division Street

Winter Sleepers
Winter Sleepers is beautifully filmed and at times mordantly funny, but never overcomes Run Lola Run director Tom Tykwer's simplistic overlay of narrative strategies. (Tom Spurgeon) Cinema 21

Wonder Boys
Any film that can make an audience stomach Michael Douglas is a minor accomplishment. Curtis Hanson's film does more than that. In fact it's rather good. Avalon Theatre, Bagdad Theater, Laurelhurst Theater

X
Japanese anime about a young man's quest to save the world. Bring your seizure medication! See review this issue. Koin Center

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