* The Cat's Meow
Peter Bogdanovich, director of The Last Picture Show and Paper Moon, takes aim at Hollywood and its talent mill in the 1920s. Like Gosford Park, Robert Altman's excellent who-cares-who-dunnit, The Cat's Meow is less about murder than it is about the social scrimmage and class pecking order of its players. In that sense, this gossipy story of events aboard the yacht of William Randolph Hearst is a success. (Nate Lippens)
Samuel L. Jackson and Ben Affleck are involved in a fender-bender rendering Jackson immobile. Affleck speeds off, unknowingly leaving behind an extremely important document; a bitter Jackson misses an important custody hearing, and a grand old feud is born. Way too many things just happen to go wrong in this film, which wears upon its feasibility. (Kudzai Mudede)
Charlie is My Darling
A tour diary of The Rolling Stones.
Cinema's Secret Garden: The Amateur As Auteur
Experimental avant-garde cinema from the mid-1930s.
* Daughter of DaNang
After the Vietnam War, thousands of Vietnamese and Amerasian children were taken back to the states. This film focuses on seven-year-old Mai Thi Hiep, who is adopted and Americanized into Heidi Bub. She is reunited with her birth mother 22 years later, but their divide could not be wider.
Death to Smoochy
Driven by adults' universal aversion to pervy, purple, children's TV characters, Danny Devito's dark comedy is adequately raunchy, but ultimately forgettable.
Stephen Dorff, Brad Renfro, and Fairuza Balk star in this tale of two brothers trying to protect their Brooklyn neighborhood from a gang in the summer of 1958.
The 1945 film about a bandit who gets lots of booty. Ha ha ha. What a hysterical pun.
* Dogtown and Z Boys
A documentary on surfers-turned-skateboarders who started the boarding craze and meanwhile got famous. See Review This Issue
U boats in Germany, spies, and cracking codes. Oh my! See Review This Issue
Not even bad enough to pass for a cheesy film rife with ironic hilarity, this crapfest follows the horrendous acting of Bill Paxton, Matthew McConaughey, and Powers Boothe through the most condescendingly stupid plot about a guy who believes God is instructing him to slaughter "demons" (i.e. hairdressers, old men, nurses) on earth. (Julianne Shepherd)
This bad film is directed by the great Carl Franklin, who directed Devil in A Blue Dress. The movie (which stars Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd) is not horrible, just too professional and conventional. Set in an army court, it lacks sweeping shots of spectacular army helicopters and, in the court scenes, it fails to sustain and exploit that efficient military speak ("These are the rules of engagement, sir!"). The result is a bland version of Denzel Washington's superb Courage Under Fire, which had lots of helicopters and military speak. (Charles Mudede)
Val Waxman (Woody Allen), a film director, has fallen out of favor since his heyday in the 70s and 80s and has been reduced to directing TV commercials. Finally, however, he gets an offer to direct a big budget film, but goes blind from the stress. He and his counterparts disguise his disability and attempt to direct the film anyway.
Doomed to the life of an outcast, Lila (Patricia Arquette) was born with an abnormal amount of body hair--not just cursed with hairy legs or coot, Lila's golden sheath of fur makes her look like a frigging Golden Retriever. Because of this, she moves into the wilderness to write nature books with titles like Fuck Humanity. Eventually, however, thanks to the yearn in her loins, she returns to civilization, where she gets electrolysis. Human Nature is worth seeing for its sheer uniqueness, but unfortunately, it's lacking a little spark. (Julianne Shepherd)
* Italian for Beginners
The characters of Italian for Beginners begin in a state of despair. This being a romantic comedy, their lives begin to intersect through a series of coincidences--coincidences that could feel contrived, but due to the rough integrity of the script, performances, and direction (shaped in part by the monastic rigors of the Dogme 95 ethic), they feel like the organic waywardness of life. (Bret Fetzer)
After a team of government scientists finally figure out that after nine movies you can't just kill the infamous Jason, they throw their hands up and cryogenically freeze his ass until they can think of something better. Naturally, Jason isn't going down alone, so after hack-hack-hacking up everyone else in the facility, he finds himself frozen alongside a sexy, sexy researcher. Next thing you know... Did someone forget to set the alarm? Because it's 450 years later! Lucky Jason wakes up on a spaceship filled with hot 'n' horny teenage scientists--and as we all know, if there's one thing Jason loves more than killing dumb kids who are having premarital sex, it's killing smart kids who are having premarital sex! (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
* Kissing Jessica Stein
With the dumb title and no name actors, you wouldn't think this would be a good film, but it is. Sex-fiend Helen places ad in the paper because she wants to try getting her lesbian freak on, and uptight Jessica is so taken by the ad that she decides to give it a chance. The gals end up trying it out together for a while, and Jessica overcomes a lot of issues, including, whether she's gay or not.
Libera, My Love
Libera is the daughter and mother of anti-Mussolini anarchists. When her son is sent into exile, her own political ideals flare and she fights against the facist government, resulting in her own internment. When WWII begins, the resistence more competently organizes and Libera continues her vendetta.
Life, or Something Like It
Thank god I saw this movie with a friend, because without someone to listen to my loud annoyed sighs, I would have exploded. Angelina Jolie looks fairly heinous with blonde hair and plays a career obsessed newscaster who thinks she's got it all... until a fortune teller says she'll die next Thursday. Yeah, yeah. So she reprioritizes, gets laid by a nice guy she used to hate (Edward Burns, what are you doing?), does not show any tit, and learns the true meaning of life is getting drunk and screwing. I could have told you that. (Katie Shimer)
* Lovers on the Bridge
Excessive, overblown, hyperbolic, Leos Carax's 1991 romance between a street performer (the amazing Denis Lavant) and an artist (Juliette Binoche) going blind from, as far as I can tell, a disease brought on by unrequited love, won't win any awards for subtlety. But then what's the advantage of being modest when your heart is bursting with passion? The astounding set, a recreation of Paris' Pont-Neuf and environs whose creation was forced upon Carax when government officials withdrew their previously agreed license to film on the real bridge, gets most of the attention. But it's the film's swooning obsession that makes it a masterpiece, an outrageous, unapologetic wallowing in the bitter bliss of l'amour fou. And then there's that scene. If you've seen it, you know what I'm talking about; if not, prepare to be amazed. (Bruce Reid)
* Margaret Mead Film Festival
The Margaret Mead Film Festival continues at PSU with more modern day anthropology: A double feature of insiders' views of two very different military movements for independence and self-sufficiency: Armed with camcorders, Zapatista villagers tell their own story about a struggle for self-sufficiency in Scenes of Resistance; in The Making of A Revolution directors Eroc van den Broek and Katrarina Rejger document the final two weeks of Slobovan Milosevic rogue government. An unnerving story told by members of the Serbian youth storm troopers.
What makes Metropolis--which has a production pedigree that includes much of anime's royalty--feel like something truly new is the animation (combining the most up-to-date CGI with old-fashioned cels and the occasional live-action background), the mood (speakeasy 1920s, complete with Dixieland Jazz and gumshoe detectives), and its refusal to divide the world into absolute good and evil. Mostly, yes, it's eye candy, but everyone's eyes should be so lucky. (Emily Hall)
* Monsoon Wedding
At first, it seems like Mira Nair is just doing family drama. The film is stylish, brisk, witty, and beautifully filmed (marigolds are so vibrant they would leave bright orange dust on your fingers if you touched them). But within the patchwork of marriage melodrama, Monsoon Wedding presents a subversive argument about the insidiousness of progress and its fluid relationship with tradition. (Sean Nelson)
Murder By Numbers
Sandra Bullock plays her usual cheesecake self. She becomes a cop after being a victim of domestic violence. Luckily, Michael Pitt saves this bad acting fest by playing a pretty convincing teenage killer.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
A frumpy diamond in the rough (Nia Vardalos) goes against the wishes of her lovingly oppressive family and falls for a hunky WASP in this intermittently amusing Grecian yarn. The unconventional Vardalos' best material springs from her sporadic narration, goofing gently on such eccentricities as her dad's Windex fetish and the many permutations of cousins named Nick. Unfortunately, her presence and a sharp supporting cast can't wholly mitigate the myriad of memorexed gags, well-trod life lessons, and director Joel Zwick's flat, sitcomish presentation. There's precious little here that hasn't been seen a gazillion times before, but Vardalos' earthy charisma and a few stray bits of off-kilter wit make for an amiable saunter into the matrimonial breech. N'Syncher Joey Fatone cameos as a bearded guy. (Andrew Wright)
The Mystery of Oberwald
An adaptation of Cocteau's The Two Headed Woman taken out of historical context. A king, queen, and an anarchist poet involved in teachery and wrongful death in an unidentified kingdom.
The New Guy
Remember the scaly-but-loveable little homunculous from Road Trip? Well guess what: He's the star of this movie, playing a juvenile delinquent who learns in "the joint" to liberate the teens at his new school when he gets out.
F. W. Murnau's truly frightening Nosferatu (1922), the first film adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula.
* On the Waterfront
Starring Marlon Brando, this 1950s film posits that the dockworkers union was run by gangsters. Brando is a dockworker who signs up for the government investigatory committee when a fellow employee dies, and almost ends up dead himself.
Other Side of Heaven
A farm boy from Idaho falls goes to the Tongan Islands in the 1950s, leaving behind his girlfriend. Don't worry though, she lifts his spirits with meaningful letters, and the experience teaches him valuable lessons about life and love. A film for freshman girls whose boyfriends have gone off to Cal State.
Jodie Foster's husband is a rich, cheating prick, so she buys a giant Manhattan brownstone in order to get revenge. The house was previously owned by a dead, paranoid millionaire, and comes complete with a "Panic Room" with video camera monitors, a phone, a motion sensor door, and food. The son of the millionaire, unscary Jared Leto, knows there's money in a safe inside the Panic Room and gets crazy Raoul , and a security expert (docile and friendly Forrest Whitaker) to help him get rich quick. But herein lies the problem: For some reason, dumbass Leto allows the house to sit empty for two weeks before performing the heist, and before he knows it, Jodie and daughter are all moved in. Instead of waiting until they're not home, Leto and pals debate for an hour about whether to try for the money anyway, and a bunch of implausible events ensue. (Katie Shimer)
The Piano Teacher
A completely repressed 40-year-old piano teacher, who lives with her controlling mother no less, is seduced by one of her students. Director Haneke explores disturbing pathologies and S&M disaster. Adult. YES.
Pink Bubble Bath: The Sexy Film Festival
Sexy short films hosted by those naughty suicide girls.
Sacco and Vanzenetti
A chronicle of the wrongful persecution, trial, and eventually murder on death row of Sacco and Vanzenetti, accused, but innocent of robbery and murder. The rigged trial and Red Scare mentality are blamed for the stamping out of these two radical political anarchists.
The Scorpion King
Who cares if this movie is any good, you get to stare at the most intelligent, gorgeous beefcake in Hollywood--The Rock.
While I give this film an okay rating, I definitely shifted around in my chair a lot. This is the perfect kind of film for mischeviously messing around with your date during, because it has a good soundtrack, but there are lots of boing parts. Filmmaker Doug Pray is just not that good, he gives too much of an overview and never gets into any of the DJs personal stories, nor does he catalog any bumpin' parties, or encounters with hot chicks. (Katie Shimer)
South Asia Film Festival
A collection of well-produced short films about Malaysian sweat shops, the rise of the Maoist movement and a horny 58-year old Nepali man.
Though Spider-Man boasts tons of computer-generated action, in actuality, this is a teen romance about dealing with adult feelings and responsibilities. And while I generally despise Kirsten Dunst, the sparks literally fly off the screen whenever she and Tobey are together. Sure, this flick has all the trappings of a kid's comic: sappy dialogue, over-the-top action, and a scenery chewing performance by Willem Dafoe--but it's fun, it's innocent, and it works.
Star Wars: Episode II
Yee haw. The next episode, starring a bunch of confusing characters who aren't Mark Hamill.
The latest jaded drama by Todd Solondz, genius writer/director of Welcome to the Dollhouse and Happiness. Two shorter films, Fiction and Nonfiction, make up the whole. The first is about a college female who is desperately trying to cling to some ideal or person, but really, is completely lost. The second film is about a loser who wants to make a documentary about filmmaking, but because he's too lame to do a good job, ends up exploiting his subjects. Another quest into the corruption and absurdity of humanity. (Katie Shimer)
The Sweetest Thing
Cameron Diaz and Christina Applegate, together at last! Also, as my friend Michael is fond of saying: someone get that Selma Blair a steak. The film is some kind of romantic comedy bullshit from the director of Cruel Intentions.
Triumph of Love
Mira Sorvino is cute as a bug playing a princess trying to return the rightful heir to her throne. But the movie doesn't make much of an effort to translate this play (by 18th-Century French writer Marivaux) from the stage to the screen; the result is both stiff and flimsy.
A spry suburban housewife falls for the erotic charge of a sexy young Frenchman. But as is always the case with affairs, someone gets hurt. See review this issue.
Billy Crudup acts like a five-year-old in the horrifyingly bad film about a married man trying to find himself on an impromptu road trip. Worth it only to hear the peanut gallery ohh and ahh when they show a shot of Cannon Beach. See Review This Issue
* Y Tu Mamá También
As two Mexican teenagers frantically fuck, the boy, Tenoch (Diego Luna), pleads/demands that the girl not screw any Italians on her impending European trip with her best friend. Meanwhile, that best friend is having rushed pre-departure sex with her boyfriend, Julio (Gael Garcia Bernal), who is also Tenoch's best friend. When the girls have left, we settle down to watch these two boys spend an aimless summer. Everything gets thrown sideways when they meet a sexy older woman named Luisa.
Yellow Card w/ Watt
The story of Tiyane, a 17-year-old soccor star, who thinks he's all that, until he encounters the real-life dramas of falling in love and becoming a father. Watt is about Blasty and Celi, who are in love, but Blasty is also in love with his boom box. When it runs out of batteries, Celi goes out to buy more and local boy Quiz sees this as an opportunity to hit on her.