Bend it Like Beckham
Not exactly a masterpiece, this film is a lighthearted, cute escape best suited for parents and teens. An adolescent, soccer-playing daughter struggles against her Hindu parents, who would rather gear her interests towards cooking and otherwise preparing herself to be a proper Indian bride. (Marjorie Skinner)
Bruce Almighty See review this issue.
Cowboy Bebop: The Movie: Knockin' on Heaven's Door
Based on a popular Cartoon Network series of the same name, Cowboy Bebop is a beautifully drawn, brightly colored, candy-coated piece of shit. It's an R-rated action-adventure cartoon that somehow manages to be appallingly weak on action (it drags on with boring, pensive scenes in which the literally two-dimensional cartoon characters say boring, pensive things like, "Of the days I've lived, only the ones spent with you seem real.") and completely absent of unquestionably the best thing about every R-rated movie ever made: sex. (Christopher Frizzelle)
Daddy Day Care
Is Eddie Murphy just too busy counting his money to read scripts? Or perhaps they're all just printed on hundred dollar bills. The once-great man hits us with yet another piece of middling excrement in the form of a Mr. Mom knock-off.
Decomposer Film Series
Bands and films, films and bands. Starring the Black Cat Orchestra, The Sensualists, and The Topiary Kings.
Down With Love
With its retro setting and references, Down With Love manages to not only pay direct tribute to the kind of sex comedy Doris Day and Rock Hudson made memorable with Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back, but it proves to be the most satisfying romantic comedy I've seen in, well, decades. Ewan McGregor is Catcher Block, the unapologetic playboy with the swinging bachelor pad (in Down With Love, every apartment is stunning, and everyone dresses in the height of fashion) and a reputation as a hard-hitting journalist. Renee Zellweger is Barbara Novak, the beautiful author whose new book instructs women to forget about love and enjoy sexual pleasure as any man would. When her book becomes a revolution the world over (and he finally sees that she's not the hunchbacked old crone he assumed her to be), Catcher begins to pursue Barbara romantically, but only to poke a gaping hole in her resolve. (Kathleen Wilson)
See review this issue.
If you're versed in the art of cheesy horror flicks, you'll recognize every cinematic element of Identity, the new film from director James Mangold. Thankfully, however, Mangold is a feisty bastard with a slightly twisted sense of humor and does all he can to make Identity a dark film within the mainstream cinema idiom. (Julianne Shepherd)
Albert Brooks slums along with Michael Douglas in this wickedly unnecessary remake of the classic 1979 Alan Arkin-Peter Falk kvetch-a-thon. The thing, however, is that I watched the original a week ago with an eye towards explaining why the remake is practically sacrilegious, and was dismayed to discover that it has aged about as well as mayonnaise on a countertop. Aside from Arkin's unstoppable brilliance and Falk's natural ease, there's little to recommend the film, which now feels slow, blocky, and obvious. (Sean Nelson)
it (independent tuesdays)
The very cool Nocturnal continues to bat a thousand with this monthly event at which budding filmmakers can show off their wares. This month's theme is Kung Fu Action Spy. All are welcome to show films; just call 239-5900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
L'Chayim, Comrade Stalin!
Sure he had his faults, but even so, Stalin was like a lively petri dish, constantly growing new social experiments and cultures. Starting in 1928, he guided the establishment of the Jewish Autonomous Region in Siberia, which survives to this day as an Eastern bloc version of Israel. An intriguing glimpse into the surviving remnants of this Soviet-era project. (Phil Busse)
An outwardly airtight, upwardly propelled couple (Christian Bale and Kate Beckinsale) reluctantly relocate to the crumbling, groupie-haunted manse of his rock producing, partying mother (Francis McDormand). Romantic entanglements, Oedipal spit-takes, identity crises, and Kip Winger-esque excess swiftly follow. (Andrew Wright)
The Lawless Heart
A young gay man dies suddenly and his family, friends, and live-in lover react with confusion and immaturity. There is some Memento-style rewinding, and the story is compelling; the dead guy's sister and the dead guy's lover are great friends driven apart and then back together by the death. (Katie Shimer)
Man on the Train
Director Patrice Leconte brings us this oft-told tale of two aging men from vastly different backgrounds coming to understand and even like each other. One is a retired poetry teacher, the other a bank robber preparing for his last heist. Despite the unbelievable premise, the acting is fine, the story is sweet, and there's nothing much else to it. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
Man Without a Past See review this issue.
With the incredibly interesting concept of the Matrix laid out in the first film, Matrix Reloaded is forced to focus on a much more banal subject: war. Turns out that along with the crew of the first film, there's a whole underground city of human rebels (the City of Zion) all working towards freeing their enslaved brethren from the machines. Unfortunately, Zion is small and the machines are big, and Neo and his crew find themselves in a race against time, trying to find and destroy the Source of the Matrix before the machines destroy Zion. The directors behind the film, the Wachowskis, work hard for as much intrigue and mayhem as the original Matrix. Make no mistake--there are discoveries to be made here; feats of technical virtuosity that will thrill and delight. The Wachowskis remain the most exciting big-budget filmmakers in the world, and Matrix Reloaded only disappoints when compared to the original. (Justin Sanders)
A Mighty Wind
Actors are no good at playing real people. When they're pretending to really talk on the phone to someone, they pause too much, they intentionally trip on their words, they look too intense, their movements are contrived, and they're always working up to the punch line. It's a weird thing that actors can't pretend to be real people, but they can't. In Christopher Guest's latest mockumentary, A Mighty Wind, the cast ruin their folk music-obsessed characters in that very fashion, and the result is a completely unfunny film. (Katie Shimer)
Nowhere in Africa
Nowhere in Africa follows a rich Jewish family that leaves Germany in 1938 and moves to Africa. There they can avoid the Nazis, but have to deal with some other issues like, oh, the lack of water. Naturally, the characters all experience guilt (you just can't have a Holocaust movie without guilt), but there are also things here you never see in any movie, such as the scene in which a swarm of locusts plunder a field of maize. The hazards of humanity and the hazards of nature are not dissimilar, this movie argues, though (at two and a half hours long) not very succinctly. Thankfully, the actor Merab Ninidze, who's very sexy, is in almost every scene. (Christopher Frizzelle)
Portland IndyMedia's Argentina Documentaries
Six documentary films fresh from the oven of democratic change in Argentina. Five of the films look at the forces struggling to topple the money-grubbing leaders and one film is advertised as a "comedy" by host Portland IndyMedia. (Remember, though, the fine people at IndyMedia consider "funny" to be footage of soccer moms and businessmen attacking ATMs and armored cars in Buenos Aires' financial district.)
Raising Victor Vargas
Victor lives on the Lower East Side and has no worldly ambitions; all he has to speak of is a crush on Juicy Judy, who wears hoop earrings and too much makeup and thinks all guys are "dogs." Neither one of them has a phone at home, which suggests a rather improbable courtship, though they manage to run into each other enough times on neighborhood rooftops and at public swimming pools, and to the surprise of no one in the audience it all works out. (Christopher Frizzelle)
The Shape of Things
The latest film by Neil LaBute, the laureate of sexual embarrassment, flips the script somewhat by arguing that women are just as capable of being complete pricks as men are. LaBute's climax retroactively changes the entire film, causing the troubling theatrical conceits that have gone before to seem like intentional diversions, and forcing the audience to decide whether or not what it has just seen was a filmed play or some kind of Skinner box. (Sean Nelson)