You don't have to watch an episode of The X-Files to know there're a lot of fishy things going on. As Dennis Nyback, the maestro of underground programming, tells it, there's an unspoken history of censorship within our supposedly free society. If you want proof of these claims, he's got it. His world-renowned program of banned Warner Bros. cartoons shows a past that Ted Turner and his money-counting cronies would rather you not know about. From anti-Japanese propaganda films to racist morality tales showing poor black folk the way to heavenly salvation, Bugs and his pals weren't always as enlightened as they were in Space Jam. So, whether you view this collection as a reminder of an America we'd like to forget or with a knee-jerk political correctness typical of this uptight town, you should all think twice next time before you shell out the dollars for boxer shorts with some cute corporate icon emblazoned on the crotch. You never know what kind of a scumbag rabbit your money may be buying carrots for. (Jamie S. Rich) Clinton Street Theatre
* Beau Travail
Claire Denis' latest film about men in the French Foreign Legion performing rituals in the desert. Loosely based on Herman Melville's Billy Budd. Laurelhurst Theater
* Before Night Falls
The real life story of Cuban writer Reynaldo Arenas from his childhood in Cuba to joining Fidel Castro's revolutionaries to later being persecuted for homosexuality. A politcal film which centers on one man's loneliness. Koin Center
Boys Life 3
A collection of homo-riffic shorts revolving around the always fascinating topic of gayness, including Majorettes in Space, #30, and a film by Jason Gould (the son of Barbra Streisand!). Cinema 21
* Buffalo '66
Vincent Gallo stars as Billy Brown, an ex-con who kidnaps Layla (Christina Ricci) and forces her to pretend to be his wife in front of his parents. The scene where she tap dances in the bowling alley is one of the best images from any film in recent years. (Andy Spletzer) Mission Theater
* Bye Bye Africa
Bye Bye Africa is the story of an African filmmaker from Chad who, after living in Paris for ten years, goes back to his country in order to try to make a film about his homeland. Mixing documentary and fiction, the director, Haroun Mahamet-Saleh, also plays the leading role and incorporates autobiographical elements into fictionalized ones. The result is at once a meditation on cinema and a modern day portrait of Chad, a country sorely underrepresented in today's current cinematic landscape. Part of the Cascade Festival of African Films and it's FREE. PCC Cascade Campus
Director Fernando Trueba travels the globe to captures the masters of Latin Jazz on film. Northwest Film Center at The Guild Theater
Portland-based Brothers Goombah Films brings us this documentary that asks the age-old question, "If you could do it with two celebrities, who would you do it with?" And, if you picked, say, Shannen Doherty and Tori Spelling (although we hope to god you would not), would they start throwing shit at each other? Would Shannen light Tori's hair on fire? Most importantly, would hilarity ensue?! Laurelthirst
* Charlie's Angels
I swore it could never be done, but somehow they've taken one of the worst shows in TV history, put in two of the worst actors in Hollywood (Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz), and come up with a comedic gem--and dare I say it?--one of the most hilarious films of the year. In this updated version of the TV show, director McG tips his hat to the classic T&A detective show of the '70s and then has a field day tearing each of its conventions down. The cast is uniformly terrific, especially Cameron Diaz, who plays her role like a giggly, girlish sociopath. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Laurelhurst Theater, Mt. Hood Theater
Director Jean-Marie Teno uses this documentary to show the similarity between a one-man government and the father of a family. Part of the Cascade Festival of African Films and it's FREE! PCC Cascade Campus
Today I'm not weak. The film critic in me has control over my emotions; it can and will repress my wolflike desire to fill this review with hungry words that praise the celestial beauty of Juliette Binoche. That being said, the movie itself is unremarkable, and has absolutely nothing new to offer: Yes, organized religion is oppressive; yes, uncouth village drunks beat their wives; yes, Gypsies love to play Duke Ellington's "Caravan" on their guitars. As for South America, of course it has many mysteries, and Europe, senescent and dreary Europe, has no mysteries at all. Finally, women are more spirited, more earthy, than men. These are not new themes. We have seen them in one form or another in movies ranging from Like Water for Chocolate to Pleasantville. (Charles Mudede) Century Eastport 16, City Center 12, Fox Tower 10, Lake Twin Cinema, Lloyd Cinemas, Movies on TV, Tigard Cinemas
* Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Legendary warrior Chow Yun Fat can never declare his love for fellow martial-arts expert Michelle Yeoh. Instead, he entrusts her with Green Destiny, his nearly magical sword. But in the dark of night a hooded thief steals it, which leads to a fight held mostly in midair. An attempt to wed emotionally reticent drama with the exhilarating freedom of Hong Kong-genre filmmaking, but director Ang Lee can't quite pull off the combination; for too long a time, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon's shifting gears only jam. The film finds its rhythm and earns the accolades it has received once it leaves the stars behind and gives its heart over to the young and engaging Zhang Ziyi, as the aristocratic daughter of privilege who opts instead for the dangerous yet thrilling occupation of thief. (Bruce Reid) Century Eastport 16, City Center 12, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Fox Tower 10, Lake Twin Cinema, Lloyd Cinemas, Oak Grove 8 Theater, Tigard Cinemas
A kid from the Bronx excels at both basketball and composition, befriends a hermit writer, undergoes a crisis from which the writer must extract him, thereby helping the writer overcome his own reclusive blah blah blah. Century Eastport 16, Cinema 99, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Hilltop, Koin Center, Lloyd Cinemas, Moreland Theater, Movies on TV, Oak Grove 8 Theater, St. John's Theater, Tigard Cinemas, Vancouver Plaza , Wilsonville
Mali director Cheick Oumar Sissoko's "millennial epic," which blends Christian, Jewish, and African faiths into the historical story of Jacob and Esau. Part of the Cascade Festival of African Films and it's FREE! PCC Cascade Campus
The Gift is about a woman, Annie Wilson (Cate Blanchett), who has a special and unusual gift: She's psychic. She uses this gift to help the community. Then! She starts seeing bad stuff. A murder occurs. She uses her gift to solve the murder. It's just plain weird that Blanchett took this role; she's a beautiful lead in any film, but she does not save films. And she especially can't save this one. (Paula Gilovich) 82nd Avenue, Hilltop, Lloyd Mall, Tigard-Joy Theater, Vancouver Plaza , Washington Square Center
The joys of eating human flesh are again on parade in this sequel to The Silence of the Lambs. With Julianne Moore as a pot roast! Broadway Metroplex, Century Eastport 16, Cinema 99, City Center 12, Clackamas Town Center, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Hilltop, Lloyd Cinemas, Movies on TV, Oak Grove 8 Theater, St. John's Theater, Tigard Cinemas, Vancouver Plaza , Westgate, Wilsonville
Head Over Heels
Yet another Freddie Prinze Jr. movie. This time co-starring Monica Potter, the actress who got offed in Patch Adams (how's that for a claim to fame?). Century Eastport 16, Cinema 99, City Center 12, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Hilltop, Lloyd Mall, Movies on TV, Oak Grove 8 Theater, Vancouver Plaza , Washington Square Center, Westgate, Wilsonville
* The House of Mirth
British director Terence Davies' The House of Mirth, starring Gillian Anderson and Dan Aykroyd, adapts Edith Wharton's 1905 novel about New York high society--the tragic story of a beautiful young woman looking to marry a rich husband and finding herself torn between her need for financial security and her desire for personal integrity. See review this issue. Fox Tower 10
Kirk Cameron stars in this straight-to-Christian-video flick about a man whose family and friends are whisked away by a vengeful God who apparently didn't like Growing Pains. 82nd Avenue
Lielythe: The Erotic Obsidian
A neat series of '60s and '70s erotic films, Super8 shorts ("Portland, OR in the '60s," "Apollo Moon Landing," etc.), and what appears to be a Mexican space film ("La Guerra de las Galaxias"), all scored by Portland synthesizer aficionados Lielythe. Mojo's Coffee Den
Director Giuseppe Tornatore spun childhood nostalgia into international box-office gold with Cinema Paradiso (1988). With Malena, he tries to repeat that success by making an art-house Porky's set in Sicily during World War II. Renato (Giuseppe Sulfaro), not even a teenager but wanting to grow up quick, starts hanging out with the older kids who ogle Malena (Monica Bellucci), a beautiful woman whose husband is off at war. Actually, the whole town ogles Malena, to the point where she's been unfairly painted as the town slut. Renato thinks he's different from the townsfolk, but she's never more than his masturbatory fantasy; a fact made distastefully literal by the end of the film. Pretty cinematography and a pretty girl do not make up for the ugly, voyeuristic core of this film. (Andy Spletzer) Koin Center
If a movie about the F.B.I. infiltrating a beauty pageant stars Sandra Bullock and Michael Caine, but all anyone is looking forward to is William Shatner's hammy turn as a tacky host, isn't it time for Hollywood to rethink its priorities? On the upside, perhaps this role as a beauty pageant contestant will persuade Miss Bullock to finally invest in some mustache bleach. Cinema 99, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Hilltop, Lloyd Mall, Milwaukie 3 Theater, Movies on TV, Vancouver Plaza
* O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Set in Depression-era Mississippi, George Clooney stars as Everett Ulysses McGill, a suave and well-groomed petty criminal doing hard time on a chain gang. Shackled to Pete (John Turturro) and Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson), he convinces them to join him in escaping by promising to split a fortune in buried treasure with them. Century Eastport 16, City Center 12, Evergreen Parkway, Fox Tower 10, Tigard Cinemas
Plain Talk & Common Sense (Uncommon Senses)
In his 1987 essay film Common Sense, longtime filmmaker Jon Jost artistically attacks and addresses consumerism, capitalism, and The Military Industrial Complex. Four Wall Cinema
Sean Penn's third directorial effort stars Jack Nicholson as a retiring police detective obsessed with solving the rape-murder of a seven-year-old girl. I've always hated those people that obsess over a band's first album or an artist's early years, but I must admit, neither of Penn's recent works have been able to live up to his first film, The Indian Runner. Nicholson gives a better-than-average "Jack Nicholson" performance, but he has become so much of a caricature of himself that it's hard to enjoy his acting anymore. A cast of lesser-known actors make The Pledge far more sincere and engrossing as a narrative; it even has Charles Bronson acting . . . who knew? I'd go track down a copy of The Indian Runner. (Pablo de Ocampo) Cinema 99, Division Street, Eastgate, Lloyd Mall, Movies on TV, Tigard Cinemas, Westgate, Wilsonville
Jason Biggs is about to marry "the wrong girl," and his two rowdy buddies (Jack Black and Steve Zahn) will stop at nothzzzzzzzzzzzz. Trapped in a shamelessly derivative mess that retreads the nun-lovin' fun of Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, they struggle to answer the question, "Women: Manipulative and emasculating, or vapid and pliable?" Judging by Silverman's sizable kitsch insurance policy, the accountant who approved this one knew it would take an omnipresent Neil Diamond to ensure the assloads of box office returns this film will undoubtedly make. You've seen this one before, sadly. (Jason Pagano) Century Eastport 16, Cinema 99, City Center 12, Clackamas Town Center, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Lloyd Mall, Movies on TV, Oak Grove 8 Theater, Vancouver Plaza , Washington Square Center, Wilsonville
Shadow of the Vampire
John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe star as director F.W. Murnau and actor Max Schreck in this period piece about the filming of the classic silent horror flick Nosferatu. The plot is about as complicated as a Berenstein Bear book, and except for Dafoe's inspired and hilarious performance, you should probably wait to see it until it's at the cheap seats. (Julianne Shepherd) 82nd Avenue, Fox Tower 10, Lloyd Mall
Guy Ritchie (a.k.a. Mr. Madonna) knows how to use a camera like nobody else. Too bad he doesn't know how to make a film. The technique is clear: heaps of colorful characters walking around in nicely lit areas doing nasty things, throw in a few twists, pile on a few more characters and a lot more nasty things, a couple more twists, and then you're done. (Jamie S. Rich) Broadway Metroplex, Century Eastport 16, City Center 12, Evergreen Parkway, Hilltop, Lloyd Cinemas, Movies on TV
This recently restored documentary (new 35mm print) of the legendary Antarctica expedition by Ernest Shackleton and his crew is eerie. Eerie not because it is so old (the journey took place between 1914 and 1916) or distant (who believes Antarctica exists? It is a fantastic country made of icebergs), but because it captured the slow and ugly death of a great empire. This expedition was Great Britain's final voyage, its farewell to 400 years of domination. This documentary, filmed by Frank Hurley, shows the Endurance's (the ship's name) terrible demise in this world of ice and penguins. For those seeking a survival epic, this is not the film. For those who love to see the sad and sorry end of great things, this is a must-see. (Charles Mudede) Northwest Film Center at Whitsell Auditorium
* State and Main
Alec Baldwin, William H. Macy, Sarah Jessica Parker, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and David Paymer descend on a small Vermont town to make a movie, bringing their sophisticated mores with them. The town end is held down by Charles Durning, Clark Gregg, Ricky Jay, Patti LuPone, Matt Malloy, Rebecca Pidgeon, and Julia Stiles... Do you begin to see a problem here? The cast is as fixedly big-city as a traffic jam. Though to tell you the truth, I was laughing too hard to worry about small inaccuracies. David Mamet has said that he was thinking of Preston Sturges when he put this film together, and it's a worthy successor to the Master. (Barley Blair) Koin Center
Sugar and Spice
Oh. my. gawd. The star cheerleader gets pregnant with the quarterback's baby! What WILL she do? Well, she's not gonna get an abortion, that's for damn sure! Besides acting as a Trojan Horse sneaking pro-life messages into the heads of teens, Sugar and Spice is never as bitchy or clever as it promises. Division Street, Eastgate, Movies on TV
* Super8 Underground's Films About Love
The Tiny Picture Club, those Super8 connaisseurs, are back for an abstract, wiltingly pretty jaunt at love. Scored by Norfolk & Western and EggCartonZoo, and made even more fun with cupids, crafts, and SPANKING! Medicine Hat Gallery
You may enjoy this movie about the Cuban Missle Crisis, and that's OK, but I want you to hate it too. Here's what's to enjoy: Bruce Greenwood as Jack Kennedy and Steven Culp as Bobby. Kevin Costner's "Boston" accent that left me weak with laughter. Dylan Baker as Robert McNamara, rolling his eyes like a cow whose foot's just been run over by a tractor. That's pretty much it for the enjoyment. And why should you hate such an innocuous piece of fluff? You should hate anything--any work of art, any literature, any fiction, any history--that pretends there is an obvious answer to any serious question. David Self's script tries to fool us into thinking there's some serious moral reckoning at work by providing St. Jack with not one but two bad guys to slay: Curtis LeMay and Adlai Stevenson. Both parts are so glaringly, grotesquely unshaded as to amount to character assassination. (Barley Blair) Century Eastport 16, Milwaukie 3 Theater, Movies on TV, Washington Square Center
Like a search engine laboring for information on "drug trade," "Mexican cartel," and "survival," Traffic pulls together three remotely connected stories about users and dealers, both in high and low places. What makes Traffic the most sophisticated narrative structure so far in this new genre of storytelling is that it does not bother to link stories with overlapping characters, or even around seminal events. Instead, the characters gravitate around keywords: greed, loyalty, self-preservation. The result is a nervous and jumpy, yet broad-based, essay on drugs in North America. (Phil Busse) 82nd Avenue, City Center 12, Division Street, Koin Center, Lloyd Cinemas, Milwaukie 3 Theater, Movies on TV, Tigard Cinemas
Two shower scenes, one hot tub scene with Denise Richards, one driller killing, one iron killing, one maggot-filled chocolat, one cherub-masked serial killer, one scarf bondage scene with hot wax, arrow-fu, ax-fu, jagged glass-fu, Denise Richards dancing in slo-mo, one angel/Angel pun dedicated to TV star and lead actor David Boreanaz, Denise Richards in a white sleeveless sweater: on the surface, this thriller about five friends suddenly victimized by someone they all spurned in high school seems to have it all. Unfortunately, director Jamie Blanks (Urban Legend) relies too much on horror film cliches (look for that inevitable silent hand on the shoulder, among other old standbys) and dissipates whatever meager suspense the movie might have held. The film also stars Marley Shelton and Jessica Capshaw (step-daughter of Steven Spielberg). (D.K. Holm) 82nd Avenue, Cinema 99, City Center 12, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Hilltop, Lloyd Cinemas, Movies on TV, Oak Grove 8 Theater, Vancouver Plaza , Westgate, Wilsonville
The Wedding Planner
Mary Fiore (Jennifer Lopez) is the baddest-assest Wedding Planner that ever there was. The sad truth, though, is that poor gorgeous Mary can't seem to find a date! One day, outta nowhere, a runaway dumpster is just about to mow Mary down, and who's there to save her, but Matthew McCon! Before you know it they're dancing under the stars, then he vanishes, only to magically reappear as...how did you know? The groom-to-be of Mary's latest client! O. My. Gawd! Cinema 99, City Center 12, Clackamas Town Center, Division Street, Eastgate, Evergreen Parkway, Hilltop, Lloyd Cinemas, Movies on TV, Oak Grove 8 Theater, Tigard Cinemas, Vancouver Plaza, Westgate, Wilsonville
* You Can Count on Me
This is the sort of well-crafted, nutritious drama that gets critics burned out on adrenalized hoopla all tied up in knots. It's fine work, featuring Laura Linney's best performance since Congo (or maybe even before) as a single mom in the quaint burg of Scottsville. Her pothead drifter of a brother, also well played by Mark Ruffalo, shows up, spurring an eventual, earnest realization of the importance of family. Matthew Broderick has an amusing role as Linney's new boss, who says things like "I like paperwork." The latest product of the Culkin Family Factory Farm for Cuteness, Rory, plays the precocious eight-year-old. Playwright Kenneth Lonergan has, for his first film, created a movie for grown-ups that hardly ever surprises, but somehow that's OK. (Marc Mohan) City Center 12, Koin Center
A slacker falls in love with his mother's lesbian lover. Hilarity ensues!
Adventures of Aligermaa
The story of 8-year-old Aligermaa, a Mongolian girl who loves riding horses.
A drama about Bollywood, the Indian Hollywood.
A former messenger opens up a chicken business. Hilarity ensues!
A young Egyptian boy becomes sexually attracted to his mother, and is lured into a fanatical cult.
Clouds of May
A son returns home to make a documentary, and ruins everyone's life in the process.
House is yet another British movie that looks like all other British movies (fuzzy camera, lots of "charming" old ladies with blue hair and raincoats, and most scenes taking place in front of brick London townhouses). In this particular Brit flick, the old ladies are extra "charming," as they come in the form of bingo players at La Scala, the archaic bingo house that represents all that is traditional and proper about England.
The Last Resort
A woman from Moscow and her son find themselves trapped in England after claiming politcal asylum.
Sybille is a 30 year old wallflower wooed by a no-good man, but she isn't as gullible as one may suspect...
Looking for Alibrandi
This average and somewhat simple coming-of-age story is well made enough, with a watertight script and a strong sense of place. Indeed, as a tourist trap, the film actually works exceptionally well, providing a breezy, widely accessible glimpse of Sydney, Australia's urban charms, including some lyrical shots of the spine-tingling Harbor Bridge. In fact, most of the direction is admirably well handled, from the superb casting--who can't adore Greta Scacchi?--to the universally strong acting (especially newcomer Pia Miranda), to the playful camera work. So what a shame it is that the MISERABLE FUCKING EVER-PRESENT POP-RADIO SCORE WITH U2 SONGS TO PROVIDE "DEPTH" ruins the film. (Jamie Hook)
The Natural History of Chickens
Yep, this movie is just what it sounds like: a documentary on chickens in our lives.
A Paradise Under the Stars
Sissy longs to dance in Havana's hottest nightclub, but her pop forbids it. A Cuban Footloose!
Peppermint is the stuff European Cinema is made of. Reminiscent of Cinema Paradiso, though infinitely less sentimental, this Greek film tells the tale of a two kissing cousins and their lifelong love, now thwarted. The chaos of the Greek family is gloriously maintained, and the film boast some awfully fine acting, and a light, sweet touch. It is especially lovely to see the graceless process of aging handled with such respect. (Jamie Hook)
A Place Nearby
A single mother is convinced her autistic son committed murder, and sets out to cover the evidence.
Another attempt from the film industry to mine the romantic lie of Bohemian life. This is actor Ed Harris' directorial debut (he also stars), and seems too hurried to establish the iconic events of painter Jackson Pollock's life--see Pollock urinate in Peggy Guggenheim's fireplace, see Pollock overturn the Thanksgiving table, see Pollock accidentally discover drip painting-instead of letting any of these moments achieve any natural resolution.
The price of milk
A dreamy, modern-day fairy tale about New Zealand.
Seven Songs from the Tundra
Life is hard in Northern Russia--just ask the Nenet people, who figure prominently in the titular shortrs which comprise this paean to pre-post Communist life.
To and Fro
The story of Filberto, a young Mexican peasant who has returned to his native village only to find his past in shambles.
A portrait of composer Villa Lobos who conveyed his passion for his country through music.
Waiting for the Messiah
This story chronicles the life of two men from Buenos Aires who have to deal with financial hardship.
The year is 1991 and Saddam Hussein's forces are slamming Israel with SCUD missiles. Yana is a Russian immigrant, three months pregnant and recently abandoned by her husband in Israel, with a nosy, amateur filmmaker for a roommate. Think sex, lies & videotapewith subtitles and gas masks. (D.K. Holm)
You're the One
A poor little rich girl from Madrid ventures to provinces to be among the "real people."