If you're finishing a trilogy about boners, boning, blow jobs, motherfuckers, call girls, and gay dudes, who needs a plot? The answer to your real question: pretty funny, although this third piece of the American Pie trilogy doesn't measure up to the first. And American Wedding definitely belongs to Stifler, who learns that in order to be the star of a Hollywood comedy, you're gonna have to eat shit from time to time. Just please promise this is the last one. (Jennifer Maerz)
And Now Ladies and Gentlemen
A strange, wandering film about a romance between two people inflicted with the same neurological disorder that causes them to black out without warning. He's a thief and sailor, who conks out and drifts his boat to Morocco. He meets her there, a lounge singer who blacks out mid-performance, walking out into the street with her microphone. The story is spiced up with his clever crime scenes, especially when he doesn't remember whether or not he's guilty. But mostly this film is syrupy slow, studying the relationship between two people who are coming from failed romances, aging, scared, and unsure of whether or not they're dying. Sweet, elegant, but not amazing. (Marjorie Skinner)
* Buffalo Soldiers
From Dr. Strangelove's Cold War wheelies to Heathers' bulimic teenage wasteland, the best satire has always worked without a net. Completed just before 9/11 and finally released, much of the taboo status surrounding the matte-black comedy Buffalo Soldiers may have come from unexpected world events, but its combination of jaded cynicism and artful cool would pass muster in any era. Based on Robert O'Connor's novel, the film chronicles the rising fall of Ray Elwood (Joaquin Phoenix), a Berlin-based Army file clerk who delights in selling everything from Mr. Clean to bathtub meth to his numbed compatriots, all directly under the radar of his dunderheaded commander (Ed Harris). Stakes are raised with the simultaneous arrival of some illicit heavy artillery and a granite-nosed new sergeant (Scott Glenn) determined to best Elwood by any means necessary. (Andrew Wright)
Graff's endlessly compassionate cast of unknowns as drama nerds gives the film an after-school-special hammy, yet completely sincere feel. The film's title is deceptively accurate; with enormous, unabashed musical numbers tossed into the mix, it really doesn't get any "campier" than this. And yet, there are fleshed-out characters here, with issues that will hit home with the most stubborn of cynics. An older drama nerd battles alcoholism as he tries to resurrect his flailing career; a young woman battles braces and a neglectful father to pursue what she loves. People and subplots fill Graff's joyous movie until it bursts at the seams. (Justin Sanders)
Capturing the Friedmans
The Friedmans are a middle-class Jewish family from Long Island. Three sons comprise the Friedmans, along with two parents, Arnold and Elaine. The dad is a schoolteacher who instructs computer classes to young boys in his basement on the side. Also in the basement is Mr. Friedman's collection of kiddie porn, which he has hidden behind the piano. And no one knows about the kiddie porn until dumbass Mr. Friedman gets busted in a sting operation for sending kiddie porn through the mail. After he gets caught for the porn mags, a wave of hysteria and sloppy police work sweeps the town. Arnold and, oddly, his youngest son Jesse, are charged with about a million counts of child rape. Thankfully for the filmmakers, during all of this insanity the three annoying sons record the dissolution of the Friedman family on video, which is the basis of the movie. (Katie Shimer)
Dirty Pretty Things
An African illegal immigrant works as a cab driver by day and a hotel desk clerk by night, despite his training as a doctor. When he does sleep, it's on the couch of a Turkish illegal immigrant (Tautou from Amelie). He soon discovers an illicit kidney-selling scheme that is praying on fellow immigrants. Frears' London is engaging in that it is a place where corruption is taken for granted, but unfortunately the plot resolves itself mechanically. Tautou, however, remains feisty and adorable throughout. (Andy Spletzer)
Despite the generally amiable Jamie Lee Curtis and the overwhelming presence of feigned teen rock band sequences (the greatest joy that the pubescent live-action genre affords), the new Freaky Friday movie is not the old Freaky Friday movie. Absent: Jodie Foster, Barbara Harris, Boss Hogg, and (in the most unfortunate oversight) the earth-shattering car-chase/water-skiing/hang-gliding finale. Present: an uninvested Jamie Lee, obligatory modernizations, and (most inexplicably) something called "Asian voodoo." (Zac Pennington)
Take a bunch of companies--SoBe, Pepsi, Butterfinger, Independent, and Slap, to name a few--and write a storyline around their huge banners and products that uses lots of fart and shit jokes, and chicks with big tits in little bikinis, and four dudes with some of those Simple Dreams of making it big. Voila! A product perfect for kids too stupid to know the difference between a terrible movie and a terrible movie about skateboarding. (Jennifer Maerz)
* Hidden Agenda
An American lawyer is caught between a British police investigator and an international human rights activist (Frances McDormand) in a film exploring Margaret Thatcher's war against the IRA. Part of PSU's Bush-Blair Boycott Dog Days of Summer Film Fest.
* The Housekeeper
In The Housekeeper, a 51-year-old sound engineer (Jean-Pierre Bacri) has a brief romance with his 21-year-old housekeeper (Emilie Dequenne). As the singer Peggy Lee once put it, that's all there is. You'll find nothing below or above, behind or beyond that scenario. The Housekeeper is simply and perfectly about a 51-year-old sound engineer who has a brief romance with his 21-year-old housekeeper. The young woman seduces the old man; the couple then takes a vacation by the sea. The movie is perfect. (Charles Mudede)
I Capture the Castle
Taking back the English period piece from those Merchant-Ivory hacks, this is one girl's coming-of-age film that anyone can enjoy. Two sisters live with their family in a remote castle, and their romantic prospects are severely limited until two American brothers inherit the land they are living on. The star of the movie is good, old-fashioned repression, and it is refreshing to see the more traditional happy ending replaced by unresolved longing. (Andy Spletzer)
* I Wonder About You and Through You
Women deconstruct technology. See My What a Busy Week pg 17
* Jason vs. Freddy
After more than 15 years of rumors and planning, Freddy vs. Jason has finally been realized, and it is exactly what fans want it to be: a fairly campy, fairly gory, barely CGI and, at times, gnarley as shit. (Julianne Shepherd)
* Krull (1983) w/ Lost Planet Episode 9
Two hostile nations must join forces against a mutant and his army. Playing at the Kiggins in Vancouver.
Lara Croft: Cradle of Life
Lara Croft: Cradle of Life takes you all over the world, making time for fighting on land, sky, water, underground, in urban settings and pastoral settings. And because Croft spares us the zingy feminist one-liners, it's impossible to hate her. After all, with a life so action packed, she's more than earned herself the smoking bod. The film is fantastically expensive and weak on logic, like any binge should be. And best of all, it's instantaneously forgettable. (Marjorie Skinner)
This movie is unflinchingly atrocious, and not in a fun, campy way. Here's how it COULD have been fun: American-turned-Parisian Naomi Watts gets divorced just in time to receive a visit from her less attractive sister, Kate Hudson. Of course Hudson's a wild, nubile little thing, and it's only a matter of time before she busts Watts out of her depression and the two go frolicking about town. But no... alas, this flick has more ambitious pretensions. It wants Watts' divorce to change her and her sister's lives forever. It wants Hudson to sleep with everyone under the sun, but then fall in love with an ultra-sleazy, twice-her-age, politician and have her heart broken when he (surprise!) ditches her for a new waify 20-something. It wants to show endless, agonizing amounts of footage of rich, white people eating fancy food and talking about how much money they're going to make off their rare painting. It wants to be a... suspense thriller with a Hitchcockian ending atop the Eiffel Tower!!? It wants to be a lot of things, but what it ends up being is the dullest, most muddled big-budget star vehicle you'll see all year. It does, however, manage to bestow Hudson with the single worst haircut ever, which is entertaining. (Justin Sanders)
What happens when a bumbling young man emerges from the cocoon of the seminary as a 16th Century rebel rouser? Rounding out the Film Center's stage-to-screen series is the John Osborne play about an Augustinian monk who shook up the Roman Church as much as Elvis shook up the music industry, minus the hip swiveling.
* Madame Satã
Madame Satä is based on the true life of Joäo Francisco dos Santos (aka Madame Satä), flamboyant figure of 1930s Rio de Janeiro. As pimp, drag performer, street fighter, surrogate father, thief, and bully, his is a character rich with dramas and a wide scope of emotions, from the most tender to the most egregious. Làzaro Ramos tackles the role with convincing intensity, as believably girlish as he is butch. Homosexual history buffs might protest the fact that the film focuses on a relatively short, earlier era in his life, before he went on to become a legendary drag performer. However, the film's span captures the grime of pre-fame vitality that's always the most inspiring part of a biography. (Marjorie Skinner)
In her long-awaited return to starring role-status (her first since the underrated masterpiece that was Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion), Lisa Kudrow stars as the heir to a successful hardcore hiphop label who must clean up the hardest of the hard, played unconvincingly by Damon Wayans.
Jackie Chan plays a stenographer in this 19th Century period piece about corruption in the British Parliment. Either that, or he compiles the scraps from his last decade of filmmaking into another piece of ass-kicking trash. Whichever.
My Boss's Daughter
Ashton Kutcher spends an hour and a half desperately trying to fuck another trashy Hollywood blonde (in this case Tara Reid)--to little avail.
In 1955, the small heartland of Northfork is about to disappear, a casualty of a newly constructed hydroelectric dam. In an attempt to move every resident out, an evacuation committee has been assembled. These men make their way through the eerie and near-empty area, trying to coax the few remaining holdouts from their land. Meanwhile, a sickly orphan, confined to bed and afflicted with feverish dreams, lies under the care of a local pastor (Nick Nolte). The inhabitants of the boy's dreams: a pack of mangy angels who may or may not be searching for him. Northfork moves at a deliberate pace, holding your attention by only offering explanations when they are absolutely needed; the cards are kept close to chest here, which is a cinematic skill long on the rim of extinction. From the opening shot, of a dark lake that is curiously sprouting coffins from beneath its surface, the Polish Brothers have crafted a film that is gorgeous, confusing, and occasionally sad. A film that does what all the best films do: inspire argument. (Bradley Steinbacher)
There are certain sentences one never expects to write. Case in point: The new Kevin Costner picture is not long enough. Am I high? That depends on just when you're reading this, but as I write this review the answer is no--Kevin Costner's new Western, Open Range (which he directed, mind you), is indeed not long enough. Still, this doesn't mean that the picture is a good one (it's not)--just that one notices while watching it that Costner, after the three-hour debacle that was The Postman, is a little gun-shy when it comes to opus length this time around. Hence Open Range's 110-minute span--a span that is certainly reasonable, but here, given what Costner wishes to show us, comes up rather meager. Part standard Western, part attempted romantic epic, Open Range starts patiently and solidly, but ends up rushing through its climax; the romance, such as it is, takes it in the teeth, and what was meant to be big and important is instead messy and clumsy. Which is too bad, because it has one of the best shootouts in years. (Bradley Steinbacher)
* PDX Indy Animation Fest
See Destination Fun pg 15
* The Qualified Astropath
A 71-minute DIY film made by Nick St. James (who will also be singing) while living in the Virgin Islands in an observatory. Visit a mystical place that melds Eastern philosophy and science fiction, all while being DIY. Also, comedy by the Phantom Hillbilly.
* Robin Hood
After a summer of cliché-filled summer blockbusters, it's nice to go back to 1938, when the clichés were not only new but done properly. Sword fights on stone staircases, swinging from vines, daring rescues against all odds, shooting the weapon out of a villain's hand, goofy comic relief from character actors--yep, all here. Errol Flynn in the title role is charismatic in spite of the *worst* fake laugh in cinema history. Other great performances include Olivia de Havilland as Maid Marion; Claude Rains as the very campy Prince John; Basil Rathbone as the eeeevil Sir Guy; and Chico, California as Sherwood Forest. Digitally restored from the original three strip Technicolor negatives and presented in a new 35mm print. (Dan Howland)
* Robotrix See review this issue.
A super-elite S.W.A.T. team is to transport a French drug kingpin to prison, but things get screwy when Frenchie offers "wan-hondred-meeeeeelion-dollors" to anyone willing to bust him out of the pokey. The S.W.A.T. team--comprised of Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriquez, LL Cool J, etc. --must then use every ounce of testosterone to prevent the drug lord's escape. The film gets points for explosions, but lacks any whiff of character development, which makes team movies like this one really work. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
The excruciating true story of a low-caste potter woman in India. A political activist against the tradition of marrying children as toddlers, she is gang raped by high-caste men indignant over her activities. The film documents trial after insult after trial as she attempts to seek justice within a society that expects her to hide her face in shame and keep quiet. Even the women she spends the night with in a prison are unsympathetic, joking how lucky she was to have five men at once. Her efforts are inspiring, and her determination in the face of such dismal repression is heartening, but since it's based on real life, this film is ultimately sad. Bitterly inspiring, but sad. (Marjorie Skinner)
* The Secret Lives of Dentists
Nothing to do with those anti-dentist activists on Broadway. The laughing gas gets turned way up when a dentist (Scott) suspects his wife of having an affair and his maniacally misogynist patient (Leary) encourages him to drill down to the root of the problem. Based on Jane Smiley's novella The Age of Grief.
* Stone Reader See review this issue.
A mousy, frigid English woman (Sarah) who writes popular mysteries retreats to her publisher's mansion in the south of France. Then his illegitimate daughter Julie shows up unexpectedly, a slutty, bratty French vagina--I mean, character. The film follows the women as they eventually become friendly, and the uptight Brit mellows out with weed, swimming, and sex. A thriller element enters the film, shifting it suddenly from stereotypical Odd Couple stuff to highly improbable, anemic drama. By the end it's revealed why things have became so cardboard and predictable. But it's an extremely flimsy excuse for mediocrity. On the other hand, Julie shows a ton of skin and has sex with a succession of nasty older men, which is fun to watch. (Marjorie Skinner)
The Magdalene Sisters See review this issue.
In attempting to essentially bottle the entire early gay rights struggle into a single relationship, director Swain both succeeds and fails. The Trip feels authentic, for the most part, even if its characters often reek of glaring fabrication. At least most "types" are avoided, which certainly places it above most queer films. (Bradley Steinbacher)
A frenzy of stylized electro-fun starring none other than Jeff Bridges. Drink beer and revel in the glory that is Tron! Part of the Mercury Movie Megathon. See Destination Fun pg 12
Brittany Murphy plays the trust fund daughter of a rock icon who died when she was a little girl. Left with his legend and his royalties, Murphy reprises her typical spoiled girl role without charming effect. Life goes swimmingly for Murphy--she lives in a penthouse and allegedly has the male world wrapped around her pinkie--until her trustor splits for South America (with all of her money). From here, what could have been a charming trading places story instead is an unbearable and uneven tale. There are shining moments--both of sly comedy and tear-jerking sentimentality--but mostly the movie hopscotches between adult drama and gooey pre-teen fairytale. (Phil Busse)
A powerful monster escapes from an intergalactic prison and comes to Earth. It attacks human beings, biting off their flesh and transforming it into his evil minions.