ABCD is a mostly engrossing story about an Indian family in New Jersey. In an effort to steer clear from arranged marriages and red dots on the forehead, the younger sister beds about anything with a pulse in the greater New Jersey/New York City area. But when an arranged date with a fresh-out-of-Calcutta-dude turns out to be kismet, the young woman must face her doubts, faiths and New Delhi past. Clunky acting, but alluring themes. (Phil Busse)
All or Nothing
Penny and Phil Bassett (Lesley Manville and Timothy Spall) are a couple living in concrete apartments in some generic part of London. Penny is a supermarket cashier; Phil is a taxi driver. They make little money and have two almost-grown kids who still live with them. There is little joy in their lives. It takes a tragedy for them to begin clawing their way out of their rut, and when a glimmer of hope finally enters the film it is achingly poignant because it is so well-earned. (Justin Sanders)
The reason this documentary will stand as a work of greatness for decades to come is simple: it absolutely nails the psychology of the stand-up comic, the most narcissistic, petty, self-obsessed, hateful, and bitter breed of entertainer known to mankind.
Femme Fatale See review this issue.
Frida See review this issue.
The Hidden Fortress
Stop me if this sounds familiar: A defeated general recruits two bumbling vagabonds to rescue his somewhat spoiled princess. Give up? Kurosawa's 1963 The Hidden Fortress is widely acknowledged as the blueprint for Star Wars.
High and Low
A wealthy tycoon (Toshiro Minfune) believes that his son has been kidnapped, and declares that he will give up his very last yen for the boy's return. But when the boy turns out instead to be his chauffeur's son, the tycoon is thrown into a moral dilemma, not to mention a complicated detective story.
The funny thing about the "truth" is that we will never completely know it, the fictitious Sherlock Holmes allegedly once said. In this classic, a film that launched Kurosawa's career and jumpstarted contemporary Japanese film, five different characters tell their version of a vicious 12th century murder.
Real Women Have Curves
A film addressing the gap between the traditional role of Mexican women and modern society.
Directed by Akira Kurosawa and made in 1961, this samurai film satirizes samurai films.
Northwest Film Center Film and Video Fest
Business of Fancydancing
I once saw Sherman Alexie speak, and he was awesome. He was speaking at the extremely well-endowed, smarty-pants college that I went to, and he caused havoc by basically giving a stand-up comedy show rather than a big, academic talk like we expected. He also illuminated a subject which I, even having grown up in the Northwest very close to a lot of Indian reservations, didn't know a lot about. He made fun of people, he was defensive, and he made us laugh. This movie, written and directed by Sherman Alexie, evoked a similar reaction. It's funny, provocative, and educational. It's the story of Seymour Polaktin, an Indian who's left the reservation and written a lot of poetry about life on the reservation. He has to return home in order to attend the funeral of a good friend, and, in doing so, faces the people he's exploited. Plays with short film Waterfall, a metaphysical noir crime story. (Katia Dunn)
A collection of the work of Clancy Dennehy, who shows his new short Nocturne about a man's neo-Victorian nightmare.
Halfway through this film I started to wonder how much footage of train hoppers director Sarah Daniels actually got. There were gorgeous, shimmery shots of trains hurtling through mountains and plains; gorgeous shimmery shots of hippies sitting on the trains and looking out at the mountains and plains; and a gorgeous shimmery soundtrack courtesy of Pete Droge. There was very little interview footage with train hoppers, however, and what there was involved variations on the phrases, "I'll never stop hopping trains" and "some people just aren't born to be caged up in materialistic society, and I'm one of them." I started to wonder if Daniels had anything important to say about train hopping at all. Then the film ended, and it turned out she didn't. (Justin Sanders)
Documentaries of Passion
Spangled asks, 'Ever wanted to sing the "Star Spangled Banner" before the big game?' Local filmmaker Jason Blalock attends the Portland Trailblazer's auditions, and documents the attempts of 300 hopefuls to do just that. It's kind of like watching an episode of American Idol, except infinitely more painful--in a good way. Blalock also cannily spotlights two auditionees who you think are going to be great... but BOY! Do they SUCK! Chris Woods Billboard features Chris Woods, a Canadian artist who spends six months painting a scaled-down billboard. A deeply uninteresting film about a deeply uninteresting topic from a deeply uninteresting director. A Thing of Wonder chronicles a local elderly magician, his tricks and sensibilities. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
A visually experimental exploration of the history and future of the theory of evolution.
As a resident of N/NE Portland, I was thrilled that a documentary film got made about gentrification in Portland-made. It is truly a fascinating and anxious time in these neighborhoods. Unfortunately, Northeast Passage is largely a disappointment. The filmmakers essentially use one do-gooder woman as their vehicle for issues of gentrification and housing displacement. Her perspectives on these massive issues are just one person's slim vantage point of the neighborhood. Shown with Cultural Jam and Not For Sale. (Phil Busse)
Seattle Super 8 Explosion
Enjoy the multimedia of Super 8 films, records, autoharps, and cocktails. All for free.
Shag Carpet Sunset
Tuck is a schmuck. He whiles away the hours playing harmonica on the sidewalk, getting drunk, playing with chainsaws, then passing out on his ex-girlfriend's roof, and he has a very odd public access puppet show. His "job" is mopping roofs in plastic medieval armor and a sword. This movie is hilarious and sentimental, particularly the flashbacks to his childhood, wherein his father delivers strange, affectionate nuggets of wisdom en route to and from the fridge, and he is instructed to confess his troubles to wooden sculptures of Elvis and wizards in the backyard. Strange and sweet. Shown with the animation journal Drowningboy and Rough Cut about a pre-med turned loan shark. (Marjorie Skinner)
Shorts of Endurance
Fourteen shorts including Blue Skies which shows riveting close-up footage of a weeping musical actor as his costuming is prepared and he makes his entrance on stage. Also includes Day Job, a sweet, gently sad, fly-on-the-wall dip into the working day of a robust, giggly door(wo)man.
Shorts of Passion
Twelve shorts exploring people who are passionate about something, including the 33 minute film Donor about a lesbian who asks her brother to donate a sample from the "fruit of his loins" so she and her lover can have a baby. Strong character development and excellent acting make this cute-as-a-goddam-bug script a terrific study of not only gay relationships, but learning to accept a family for who they are. Expect big things from directors Adele Wilson and Eve Whitaker! Shorter films include Hunter Dawson, a painfully cheesy spoof on a reality television audition tape and Taken, filmed like the insides of a video game, a beautifully done short, marred slightly by the slow and uncomfortable story. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
Shorts of Wonder
Profiles In Science is a not-very-clever grade school science video hoax about stop motion photography. Post Nasal Drift shows snotty figures evolving out of slime into increasingly complex abstract organisms, eventually resembling mechanized parts. The Lone Ranger is just like a Joe Satriani music video, except much blurrier and One is a dry-eyed visit to the primary-colored apartment of a lonely, silent young man who takes us for an alienated ride on the Max train... plus more.