Film Shorts 

* Film Jeopardy! Auditions
Local film geeks are putting together an event called Film Jeopardy! that needs players. Show up at the Hollywood at 11 am on Sunday, April 18 to try out as a contestant. You have to be one of the first 200 people through the door in order to be eligible--so get there early--and you must be available May 2, 9, 16, and 22 for subsequent rounds. Participation is free, tickets to the preliminaries are $5, and tickets to the May 22 finals are $10. Pit your knowledge against Portland celebrities and other film geeks, and win prizes!

50 First Dates

Adam Sandler isn't as funny as he used to be, but 50 First Dates still has a few good jokes. Drew Barrymore is pretty terrible but wears totally cool outfits and bitching turquoise eyeliner. All in all, it's worth $3 at the second run. (Katie Shimer) Avalon, Edgefield, Laurelhurst

* Aileen: The Life and Death of a Serial Killer See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre

The Alamo
The latest rendition of The Alamo is perhaps the crappiest movie I have ever been forced to watch. During the one-hour siege scene--a formless and chaotic battle play--I made a grocery list. When Sam Houston, portrayed witlessly by Dennis Quaid, gave a flat, "Remember the Alamo" pre-battle speech, I stared at the ceiling. (Phil Busse) Regal Cinemas, etc.

Alone
It may not seem like the most rebellious notion, but considering that the Soviet Motherland expected everyone to surrender their individuality, it was downright inciting. A young woman on her way to a work assignment in Siberia must struggle on her--gasp--own, after her sleigh driver abandons her. Whitsell Auditorium

An Autumn Afternoon
Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu's last film is also considered one of his most far-reaching. A stark story about a widower who plans to marry off his beautiful daughter, in spite of her objections. A tale about the generation gap in post-World War II Japan. Whitsell Auditorium

* Big Fish
While director Tim Burton may have been pooh-poohed in the past for placing cinematic glitz over storytelling ability, with Big Fish he finally brings them together in glorious harmony. Switching back and forth between reality and tall tales, Burton weaves a truly poignant story about the complicated ties between fathers and sons, and how severing those ties can eventually strengthen them. The cast is uniformly terrific, with an absolutely amazing performance by Albert Finney. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Laurelhurst

COLD MOUNTAIN
Nicole Kidman and Jude Law are both freakishly beautiful people, with chilling blue eyes that slice through the tragedies surrounding them. Despite gritty, tough performances from both in this civil war epic about a soldier trying to get home to his lover, they are ultimately miscast, as their beauty objectifies them, and as a result, distances them. Laurelhurst

Connie and Carla See review this issue City Center 12, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Lloyd Cinemas, Pioneer Place Stadium 6, Sherwood 10, Tigard Cinemas

The Cooler
The Cooler is a small, unremarkable film that's watchable due to one thing: sex. Specifically, a sex scene between William H. Macy and Maria Bello. Director Wayne Kramer has managed to give audiences something all too rare in films these days--a sexy scene that not only causes the audience to flush, but makes sense as well. The coitus in The Cooler is refreshing, fun, and the tangling of bodies helps elevate the entire endeavor above its somewhat middling quality. (Bradley Steinbacher) Laurelhurst

* Dawn of the Dead
No longer content to lumber around like tranquilized robots, the zombies in Dawn, like in 28 Days Later, screech like hellish bobcats, and sprint at their prey with horrible speed. In short, filmmakers have finally figured out how zombies can still terrify this modern world hooked on high-speed wireless connections and instant messenger programs: They must be FAST. A movie with cool gore effects, likable characters, and most importantly, fast-movin' zombies, is guaranteed to be at least a little bit fun and scary. This is proven by Dawn, an entertaining movie with all the aforementioned qualities, and little else. (Justin Sanders) 99W Drive-In Theater, Lloyd Mall, Oak Grove 8 Theater

Ella Enchanted
Some college student once described a particular hallucinogen as "like being kicked in the head by a psychedelic horse." This is also an apt description of Ella Enchanted, a colorful retch of a film based on a novel by Gail Carson Levine. It retells and modernizes the Cinderella story, mostly through a complete reconfiguring of the plot and a sprinkling of dry, "modern" humor, all of which falls flat. (Marjorie Skinner) Regal Cinemas, etc.

* Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Whereas the last Michel Gondry/Charlie Kaufman collaboration, Human Nature, eventually crumbled under its own quirkiness (considerably helped along by the staggering blandness of Tim Robbins), Eternal Sunshine finds director and scribe fitting perfectly together. This is a film that travels far beyond most of our imaginations. It is also one of the most beautifully assembled romances you will ever see. (Bradley Steinbacher) City Center 12, Fox Tower 10, Lloyd Cinemas, Milwaukie 3 Theater, Tigard Cinemas

Gallipolii
The standard Hollywood formula for an anti-war picture is, of course, to never hint at mocking the brave and noble soldiers who fight, while taking a general view of the events surrounding them as tragic, unavoidable, and inexplicable. Throw in some engaging camaraderie among the troops and some bloody battles, and the critics and audiences should swoon. It worked for Private Ryan, and it worked 20 years ago in this Aussie epic about WWI. Of course, I'm no fan of Spielberg's opus, and even two decades ago there were some of us who preferred Breaker Morant. Laurelhurst

The Girl Next Door
This uncredited remake of Risky Business is about a young man (Emile Hirsch) who dreams of getting into a top-notch school. His academic plans are disrupted when he falls in love with the sexy girl next door (Elisha Cuthbert). In this update of the Paul Brickman classic, the love interest is changed from a hooker to a porn star, Guido the killer pimp becomes Kelly the dangerous porn producer, and the business lessons learned from running a brothel become a story about the financial rewards of the porn industry. The whore with the heart of gold is still sweet, but this movie is a whole lot uglier. It's too bad because it starts out so charming, but once money gets involved it all goes to hell--the plot becomes cliched, the twists become implausible, and the message about money being more important than moral fiber is unsavory. (Andy Spletzer) Regal Cinemas, etc.

Girl with a Pearl Earring
Girl with a Pearl Earring is stuffy to a fault, no matter how many shots of Scarlett Johansson's pout director Peter Webber can fit in, and the final tally falls somewhere between the best of Merchant Ivory and the worst of Merchant Ivory. Which is to say this: It is a well-made but nonetheless empty and, quite often, outright dull affair. (Bradley Steinbacher) Cinemagic

* Good bye, Lenin
In 1989, Alexander Kerner (Daniel Brühl) is a young East Berliner not beginning, as he had hoped, a career in space, but one as a TV repairman. Though not happy about his situation, Alexander is not an angry youth, nor is he openly hostile to his mother, whose faith in the Socialist Party contradicts his emerging political beliefs. During a protest against the state, which is brutally repressed by the police, Alexander's mother chances to see him being beaten and arrested by the very cops who serve the party that she is devoted to. The mother faints and has a heart attack, which sends her into a coma. During her sleep, the Berlin Wall falls, East Germany dissolves into West Germany, and the society changes its money, its clothes, its entire mode of material existence. After eight months, the mother awakes, but because she is frail, the doctor strongly recommends that her recovery not be shaken by shocks and surprises. It's at this point that Good Bye, Lenin! becomes interesting. (Charles Mudede) Fox Tower 10

* Hedwig and the Angry Inch Sing-a-long
John Cameron Mitchell wrote, directed, and starred in this Rocky Horror-cum-Velvet Goldmine-esque opus about a big-haired megalomaniac singing his/her way across the U.S. (M. Lon Free) Blind Onion

* Hellboy
Admittedly Mike Mignola's comic sounds shitty on paper: Hellboy--a baby demon clandestinely summoned by the Nazis in WWII--is adopted by the good-hearted Professor Bruttenholm, raised in the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, then proceeds to fight Nazis and various monsters. Ridiculous premise or no, Hellboy has been a mainstay of indie comics for 10 years, infusing that simplistic premise with insightful characterization and emotional resonance. As those are qualities usually ignored in Hollywood's comic adaptations, Hellboy should have failed fantastically. Instead, it succeeds in ways that no other comic adaptation has. Much of this is because writer/director Guillermo del Toro has fervent faith in the material, a near-perfect cast, and a production design that bears the stylish stamp of Mignola himself. That's not to say it's a flawless transition--cramming the Hellboy mythos into two hours is a tough job, and it shows. Gone are Mignola's lyrical writing and folkloric overtones, replaced with del Toro's kinetic action sequences and sharp visuals. (Del Toro's version feels like Hellboy Lite--just as fun, but only half as filling.) (Erik Henrickson) Regal Cinemas, etc.

Hidalgo
Rumor has it that Viggo Mortenson was cast in this bloated desert adventure before he became one of the most famous actors ever via Lord of the Rings. I find it very hard to believe, however, that the producers of Hidalgo weren't just trying to cash in on a bankable star... because Mortenson STINKS. I can't imagine anyone in their right mind listening to his dismal cowboy accent or observing his nonexistent comic timing, and not saying, "Next!" Aside from Mortenson, though, Hidalgo could almost be cool. It tells the story of a cowboy at the turn of the century who entered a race in Saudi Arabia across a vicious desert. It's supposedly a true story, but regardless, it's a neat premise. Too bad the script is tepid and meandering and loaded with stupid family-friendly Middle Eastern stereotypes. Pretty scenery, though. And horses. (Justin Sanders) Cinema 99, Evergreen Parkway, Lloyd Mall, Milwaukie 3 Theater, Movies on TV, Tigard-Joy Theater

Home on the Range
Concerning three cows that live on a farm run by what must be a vegetarian (as the animals are treated like pets), Disney's Home On The Range is no A Bug's Life. Rather than making smarty references to contemporary consumer predilections for healthier foods (fat-free milk, free range chickens, and so on), it should have turned its back on our world and only referenced its historical period, the 19th Century. Nevertheless, Home On The Range has two things to its credit: One, it offers a great performance from Cuba Gooding, Jr. and two, Home On The Range is mercifully short; the story about three cows who become bounty hunters to save the farm from closure is completed in just over an hour. Regal Cinemas, etc

* House in the Snow Drifts
Set in 1919 and made in 1927, this film shows the tenants of a small Russian apartment house fighting to stay alive through the winter, while Communist and Tsarist forces battle around them. Rather than concern themselves with the conflict, the tenants focus on food and warmth, while one egotistical artist among them effuses about how he's above it all. Whitsell Auditorium

In America
Director Jim Sheridan always turns up the emotion in his films, but at least his earlier movies took place in faraway Ireland. When all this emotion is suddenly close to home and out of its usual cultural environment, it's rather obnoxious and exasperating. (Charles Mudede) Kennedy School, Laurelhurst

In That Land
Old Mother Russia may be no more, but not everyone finds it easy to give it up and make the brave, bold leap into the modern world. In That Land is set in the Russian countryside, populated by an engaging cast of eccentric characters undergoing the best of times and the worst of times with humor and spirit. Guild Theater

* James' Journey To Jerusalem
An adorable but yet weighty fairytale about James, a devout believer from a small African village, who is sent to Jerusalem on a religious pilgrimage. Once he arrives, of course, his starry-eyed plans hit a wall of reality, immigration laws, and indentured servitude. Clinton Street Theater

Jersey Girl
Jersey Girl is not a film for fans of Kevin Smith's previous work, such as Clerks, Mallrats, or Chasing Amy. Why? Because Jersey Girl isn't funny, clever, stylistic, or crude. It's just one of those middling stories about a crappy dad who steps up to the plate and becomes a great dad, putting his career aspirations aside. Ben Affleck is the dad, J.LO is the mom--who dies during childbirth--and a believably Hispanic-looking kid plays the cutesy daughter. Overall, this film provides about 10 minutes of real entertainment, between the time J.LO kicks the bucket and the time Ben Affleck accepts his calling as a wonderful father. After that it's pure sap city. (Katie Shimer) Sherwood 10, Vancouver Plaza, Westgate

Johnson Family Vacation
Cedric the Entertainer and his son, L'il Bow Wow, attempt to drive to a family reunion. Crises ensue. City Center 12, Clackamas Town Ctr., Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Lloyd Mall,

* Kill Bill Vol. 2 See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.

Kitchen Stories
A spoof on how science can make for more efficient living, the fictional Swedish Home Research Institute sends observers to examine kitchen habits in 1950s Norway. The subtext of this gentle comedy is a homosexual love story. The "text" is much less interesting. Beware: your grandparents will love it. (Andy Spletzer) Fox Tower 10

Ladykillers
Tom Hanks is a con artist who devises a plot to loot a Mississippi gambling boat by taking up residence in the home of God-fearing widow. He convinces the widow to let him use her cellar as a practice space for his "renaissance quintet"--in actuality a gang of questionably talented criminals (including Marlon Wayans) who intend to dig a tunnel to the casino's money. Due to bumbling circumstances, the heist goes south, and the gang attempts to bump off the widow--a feat easier said than done. The problem with The Ladykillers lies in its clash of styles; scenes including Hanks and the widow play with the sparkling wit of Arsenic and Old Lace, but are interspersed with Wayons' modern-day ghetto comedy. Both are individually funny--but the juxtaposition is annoying. Nevertheless, as a dark comedy, The Ladykillers excels, it's just not what you would call an out-of-the-park Coen Brothers homerun. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Cinema 99, City Center 12, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Lloyd Cinemas, Moreland Theater, Pioneer Place Stadium 6, Tigard Cinemas, Vancouver Plaza

* The Magnificent Ambersons
Orson Welles film about a rich family, the Ambersons, and their daughter Isabel who chooses to marry dull and rich Wilbur, rather than adventurous and handsome Eugene. The wealthy couple has a child, and Eugene takes off to make his fortune, returning years later to a widowed Isabel. When Eugene asks for her hand again upon returning, she is receptive, but her spoiled son is out to sabotage them. Cinema 21

* Midnight Madness
Michael J. Fox makes his movie debut in this 1980 film about a midnight scavenger hunt. Pix Patisserie

Miracle
The U.S. hockey team upsetting the seemingly indestructible Soviets at the 1980 Olympics was truly one of the great moments in sports; when politics, teamwork, and pride all met in one supernova nexus. A chimpanzee with a camcorder could make an exciting film based on this true story, but Disney nearly blows it. They would have been better off simply showing real footage from the 4-3 upset over the Soviets. That game had more tension in a single power play than the movie Miracle has in its whole two-plus hour run. Long drawn-out shots of players wrapping their sticks or staring blankly at the ice hardly substitutes for raw emotion. Moreover, Disney's nod to the historical context is so dismissive it is insulting to a third-grader. Please! Showing one headline about the Soviet's invasion into Afghanistan hardly imports the fear and hatred of the Cold War. Go back to The Mighty Ducks, Disney! (Phil Busse) Bagdad

* Monster
In an amazing feat, Charlize Theron not only manages to look like complete crap, she does a spectacular job of playing notorious serial killer Aileen Wuornos. Mimicking her telltale mannerisms perfectly, Theron plays the part with total believability. Her performance--and the smart direction of the film--evoke sympathy, anger, disgust, and an overwhelming emptiness. Granted, seeing a movie about a woman whose life went from child abuse to prostitution to rape to murder to betrayal by her lover to execution isn't a fun time; but it effectively makes you ponder the immense good and evil in humanity, and quite possibly, will make you cry. (Katie Shimer) Cinemagic

Mystic River
For all the "inexorability" and "meditation" of its violence, Mystic River feels desperately contrived. Whether director Clint Eastwood has some deep understanding of the nature of violence remains unclear. What is certain is that he knows how to make a movie, even a dumb one, well worth watching. I only wish someone would send him some better books. (Sean Nelson) Avalon, Bagdad Theater, Kennedy School, Laurelhurst, Mission Theater, St. Johns Pub

* Near and Far: Films by Johan van der Keuken
Johan van der Keuken (1938-2001) acts as his own cameraman, with his wife as the sound operator documenting culture in Holland, India, Egypt, and the US. Wednesday night's film The White Castle is less about the delicious burger joint and more about the juxtaposition of an impoverished area of Columbus, Ohio and an industrial area of the Netherlands. Thursday night's program The Eye Above the Well focuses on the daily life of the people in Kerala, a coastal province in southwestern India. Cinema Project

The Passion of the Christ
Jewish theologians have made a lot of hay recently about the anti-Semitic overtones of Mel Gibson's biblical drama, The Passion of the Christ--and they're right. The film is anti-Semitic. Even more surprisingly, it's hugely anti-Christian. In fact, it's just about anti-EVERYTHING, except anti-blood, guts, and gore. This is the story of Christ as told by Quentin Tarantino's evil twin, and to sum it all up? It's the world's first Christian snuff film; two full hours of Jesus Christ getting his ass KICKED. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) 82nd Avenue, Cinema 99, City Center 12, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Fox Tower 10, Lloyd Cinemas, Movies on TV, Sherwood 10, St. Johns Theater, Tigard Cinemas, Vancouver Plaza, Westgate, Wilsonville

The Prince and Me
If you've ever wondered what goes through a 12-year-old girl's mind while she's jacking off, here is your opportunity to find out: The Prince & Me has one of the most endearingly logic-free plots in the history of cinema. It's a love story about the, uh, Crown Prince of Denmark and Paige (Julia Stiles), a farm girl and aspiring doctor from Wisconsin. (Marjorie Skinner) Broadway Metroplex, Evergreen Parkway, Lloyd Mall, Milwaukie 3 Theater, Movies on TV, Sherwood 10, Westgate

* The Prisoner, episode 6 & 7
The Mission is spotlighting this terrific cult television series starring Patrick McGoohan as a retired spy who finds himself imprisoned in a very mysterious village. A guaranteed marijuana freakout! Mission Theater

The Punisher See review this issue. 82nd Avenue, Broadway Metroplex, Cinema 99, City Center 12, Division Street, Hilltop, Lloyd Mall, Oak Grove 8 Theater, Tigard Cinemas, Wilsonville

* Rosewood
John Singleton's film about a small town in Florida where racist whites start a war against their black neighbors. Starring Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, and Jon Voight. PSU Smith Memorial Union Rm 225

* The Secret Window
Johnny Depp plays Mort Rainey, a depressed novelist who's got a bad case of writer's block and a divorce waiting in the wings. While his unfaithful ex (Maria Bello) gets it on with her lunkhead boyfriend (Timothy Hutton), Mort steams in a lakeside cabin in upper New York. His self-imposed privacy is broken, however, by a Mississippi hick called John Shooter (John Turturro) who claims Mort has plagiarized one of his stories. When the situation isn't rectified to Shooter's satisfaction, Mort's acquaintances and pets begin winding up with screwdrivers crammed into their heads. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Edgefield, Mission Theater

* Sing-a-long Wizard of Oz
The wildly popular Judy Garland classic sung by you and a couple hundred new friends. Careful not to choke on your popcorn! Cinema 21

Spartan
Sinister plots at the White House, the president's daughter gets kidnapped--it's one big, fat West Wing episode, care of David Mamet. Starring Val Kilmer and William H. Macy. Kennedy School

Starsky & Hutch
The story of two plainclothes detectives who broke the rules to catch the crook, S&H were different from other buddy cops, in that they couldn't keep their hands off each other. Though attempts were made to re-enforce the duo's heterosexuality, in practically every episode the buddies were hugging, touching, and rolling around together in the heat of action. Amazingly, the movie version of Starsky & Hutch practically ignores this crucial part of their relationship, which significantly lessens the parody. In this version, Starsky and Hutch (Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson) enlist the help of street informant Huggy Bear (Snoop Dogg) to bring down a murderous coke dealer (Vince Vaughn). There are plenty of missed opportunities in this movie, and while I've certainly seen less funny films recently, I can't help but think Stiller and Wilson's talents have been largely wasted. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Cinema 99, Lloyd Mall, Pioneer Place Stadium 6

* To Be and To Have
In this really very lovely documentary--without voiceover and with very little obvious agenda--we follow Georges Lopez and about 12 students, from little kids to unpredictable pre-teens, over the course of a half-year in a one-room schoolhouse, as he gently but firmly guides them toward reading, counting, and something higher and better and more ineffable: being good, thoughtful, communicative people. (Emily Hall) Hollywood Theatre

* Touching the Void
Have you heard the one about the two English men who tried to climb an icy mountain in Peru? One slipped, fell, and broke his leg. The other left him for dead. Now they've made a movie that would make make Ansel Adams blush! Fox Tower 10

* The Triplets of Belleville
An animated French film that speaks nary an intelligible word throughout its entire 80-minute running time, Les Triplettes de Belleville's jaw-dropping artwork alone could have kept me riveted for hours. Physically exaggerated characterizations and dark, dank urban landscapes give the film a particularly strong noir sensibility, and in the void of spoken word, layered sound effects add to the ambience. (Justin Sanders) Fox Tower 10

United States of Leland
A Sundance favorite left moldering on the shelf for over a year, The United States of Leland is yet another painfully earnest attempt to bring the secret crimes of white-collar America to light. Focusing on the aftershocks of a seemingly senseless teenage murder, and told in a series of distracting flashbacks and voice-overs, the film attempts to simultaneously take a telescopic and microscopic view of its subject matter, resulting in a self-important mishmash of good intentions and stale executions. (Andrew Wright) Fox Tower 10

Walking Tall
What does a person want from an action movie starring the Rock? Well, if you're me, you want two things: 1) the Rock to walk around with his shirt off and 2) the Rock to beat the living Christ out of a bunch of bad guys. According to my relatively simple criteria for a good Rock action movie, then, Walking Tall completely sucks. The Rock takes his shirt off only one time--he looks great, by the way--and participates in roughly four fights, nearly getting his ass kicked twice. The rest of the film is spending on boring plot development that should've taken five minutes. In short... this movie has way too much blabbing and not enough stabbing. (Katie Shimer) Cinema 99, Clackamas Town Ctr., Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Hilltop, Lloyd Cinemas, Movies on TV, Sherwood 10, Vancouver Plaza, Wilsonville

* Weird Science: An Evening with Morgan Currie
Exploring the implications of biotechnology, this program of short films includes an absurdist conversation between a jellyfish and a Rhesus monkey; two species whose genes were successfully spliced at OHSU. Currie also examines the dangers of tampering with human reproduction, and shows two films that have inspired her. Guild Theater

* What the Fuck Do We Know?
Mark Vincente's What the #$*! Do We Know?, is a tidy, slick, and thoroughly compelling documentary-infused narrative, which attempts to break the ice of quantum physics without putting us to sleep. The dramatized portions follow a few days in the life of Portland photographer Amanda, affectionately played by Oscar winner Marlee Matlin, as she deals with her separation from a cheating husband. These scenes were filmed at various sites around Portland, which adds a certain resonance to the action. Interspersed throughout the narrative, noted quantum physicists break it down, posing huge questions about reality, and our perceptions thereof. They touch on deliciously radical and heretical topics, but stop short of simple explanations, which gives the film a lovely, meditative feel, while simultaneously making you smarter. (Brian Brait) Bagdad Theater

The Whole Ten Yards
This sequel to The Whole Nine Yards sees Jimmy the Tulip getting in a big mess as a result of his buddy's wife being kidnapped by Hungarians. Um, yeah. 82nd Avenue, Cinema 99, City Center 12, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Hilltop, Lloyd Mall, Movies on TV, Oak Grove 8 Theater, Pioneer Place Stadium 6, Sherwood 10, Tigard Cinemas, Vancouver Plaza, Wilsonville

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