Film Shorts 

13 Going on 30
It's 1987 and 13-year-old Jenna wants nothing more than to grow up and become the editor of her favorite fashion mag, Poise. In her way is a group of horrid junior high bitches, and her fat neighbor, who carries a Casio and a huge crush. After a particularly traumatic experience, Lil' Jenna uses "wishing dust" to become Big Jenna--a 30-year-old knockout with a closet full of shoes, a hot boyfriend, and her dream job. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Avalon Edgefield, Kennedy School, Mt. Hood Theater, Valley Theater

* 2 POP Summer Film Series
A grab bag of short underground films presented by Peripheral Produce. This month's theme is mind control, and includes the documentary Don't Call Me Crazy on the Fourth of July, a film by Richard Pell about activist Robert Lansberry, a man who worked hard to publicize his beliefs that the government was stealing his mail and that radio signals were being beamed into his head. The other films explore mind manipulation as well. The Know

* The 4th Man
An erotic thriller, this is the final Dutch-language film produced by Paul Verhoeven. After this, he moved to Hollywood, made Basic Instinct and also made millions of bucks in the process. With characters similar to those in Basic Instinct, the predators turn to prey, and back again. Whitsell Auditorium

* Archaeology Film Series
The Kiggins Theater continues their Archaeology Film series with Socotra, The Island of the Phoenix, about the Yemen-ruled island of Socotra that for years was used as a Soviet naval base, but was recently opened for scientific research. In the depths of one of the island caves, scientists discovered fauna and flora found no place else in the world. Following is The Human Odyssey, Part 1: The Dawn of Man, which retraces man's first steps in Africa. Kiggins Theater

Around the World in 80 Days
The only adults I can fathom wanting to watch this unfunny movie are masochistic Californians just dying to see their elected governor prance about in a hot tub and gaze lustily at pale French maids. The Jackie Chan action sequences are few and feel tacked-on, and the cheesy message about the evils of 19th Century colonialism is cheerfully undermined by the xenophobia in the rest of the picture (the aforementioned Schwarzenegger plays a ditzy, polygamous Turkish prince whose most prized possession is a Rodin sculpture of himself). (Annie Wagner) Regal Cinemas, etc.

* Bon Voyage
Bon Voyage has a big theme (Germany's invasion of France), big actors (in terms of reputation), and big emotions (a young man's eternal love for a famous but shallow movie actress). The speed of the film's narrative is always high, and the characters are kept in constant motion, rarely stopping to rest and look at the big world around them. If this were an American movie, it would have been described as intelligent and even profound; but as a French movie, it is big, dumb, and lots of fun. (Charles Mudede) Fox Tower 10

* Bukowski: Born Into This
Born Into This is an extremely comprehensive and thoroughly depressing documentary about writer Charles Bukowski's life. Beaten by his father and plagued with the worst case of acne ever, it's admirable that Bukowski didn't commit suicide sometime during high school, and instead became one of the most famous and well-loved writers of all time. The film is packed with old Bukowski interviews, and new interviews with girlfriends, friends, his wife, daughter, and fans. Even though the film drags at some points, the more compelling footage makes up for it, like a tape of Bukowski drunkenly ranting at his wife, or crying at his own wedding. (Katie Shimer) Hollywood Theatre

Chronicles of Riddick
The good news? This sequel to Pitch Black is almost worth admission price for the set decoration and special effects alone. Geiger-inspired, the set, costumes and CG are sweeping affairs, loaded with tons of beautiful, interesting detail. Unfortunately, however, effects can't make up for the fact that Vin Diesel sucks and the script is pure crap. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Regal Cinemas, etc.

* Coffee and Cigarettes
Based upon the existentialist's perennial props--coffee, cigarettes--it's easy to assume Coffee and Cigarettes will fulfill the circular non-aspirations of '90s slacker art films. A collection of black-and-white shorts directed by Jim Jarmusch (some of which were in fact filmed in the '80s and '90s), it follows a formula similar to his 1991 film A Night on Earth: concretize the mise en scene (here, conversation over coffee and cigarettes) and flow in the players, for a portfolio in character interaction and bare direction. It's a meditation on the extraordinary in the mundane--and, at first, it seems the emphasis is "mundane." But, starting with the short starring Tom Waits and Iggy Pop, magic starts to happen. As the scripts loosen, tension between players becomes more genuine, recurring topics emerge, the magnetic pull of coffee and cigarettes is pondered, and the film attains a hypnotic shiplike sway. (Julianne Shepherd) Fox Tower 10

* The Day After Tomorrow
The Day After Tomorrow is a summer blockbuster--an all-purpose film, meant to entertain you and me and popcorn-huffing Middle Americans and apocalypse-watchers and the Jake Gyllenhaal Fan Club alike--and in the interim, hopefully earn back some of the 100 million clams it dropped on special-effecting the Empire State Building to freeze up and bend over. But that's just gravy. The Day After Tomorrow is, in actuality, a two-hour-long, stern visual memo from director Roland Emmerich to George W. Bush RE: his absentee environmental policies, and it couldn't be more awesome. Okay, it could be more awesome--but it's better than you might expect. (Julianne Shepherd) Regal Cinemas, etc.

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.

* Downtown 81
Filmed in 1980 and 81, this film was "lost" due to a "lost" budget and some "lost" footage. Jean Michel Basquait wanders the streets of NY trying to sell a painting and runs into all sorts of underground art peeps and musicians. Whitsell Auditorium

Elevator Movie
From actor/writer/director Zeb Haradon comes this ultra-low-budget film about Jim (Haradon), an anally obsessed dork, and Lana, a born-again Christian, both of whom get stuck in an elevator. Haradon never explains how or why, but through simplistic plot devices (a grocery bag that magically replenishes itself, a coffee can that mysteriously empties itself of their waste), he manages to keep Jim and Lana in the elevator for months on end. The two spend that time talking about a never-ending amount of boring, inconsequential bullshit... that is, until Lana starts turning into a robot. It sounds like there should be more to it, like some symbolism or something, but there isn't; clocking in at an excruciating hour and a half, the film outlasts its premise by an hour and 20 minutes. As an added bonus, there's an explicit shot of Haradon's dick as he tries to cram it into a piece of lubed-up pipe, and a similarly graphic close-up of Haradon stomping and grinding a real live mouse to death. Screw you, Haradon. This movie sucks. (Erik Henriksen) Sabala's Mt Tabor Theatre

* Fight Club
A disenfranchised guy (Edward Norton), hooked on support groups for the terminally ill, gets a grade-school crush on a fellow support group tourist (Helana Bonham Carter), then meets a rebel (Brad Pitt) with whom he starts a masochistic fight club. (Andy Spletzer) Fifth Avenue Cinemas

Garfield: The Movie
Sure, this movie is bad, but maybe not as bad as you'd think. Bill Murray sounds great as Garfield, and amazingly, the script doesn't compromise on making him an asshole. He's self-centered and mean, and even has a couple pretty adult jokes. Now, if they had just fleshed Jon's (Breckin Meyer) relationship with Garfield into something substantial and not perfunctory for the insipid plot (which isn't worth relating, trust me), and if Jennifer Love Hewitt wasn't in the movie at all, and if there hadn't been a blatant product placement for Pepsi, Wendy's, and Ford Trucks in EVERY OTHER scene... why Garfield might almost have been slightly okay. (Justin Westcoat Sanders) (Justin Sanders) Regal Cinemas, etc.

* 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) Laurelhurst

* Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
How did the director of the super-hot hetero/homoerotic sex romp Y Tu Mamà Tambièn end up working the new Harry Potter pic? Though the producers' answers are standard press-junket fare--"works great with kids," "a visually exciting director"--the choice to bring Alfonso Cuaron aboard the Potter juggernaut was a risky and inspired move. Happily for all, it paid off with the strongest installment yet. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Regal Cinemas, etc.

* Hate's Passion
Seventeen-year-old Nathan Mielke debut's his film about two brothers who are separated as kids and reunited as men. Replete with pirates, kings, battles, and an Oscar-worthy cast of Playmobile toys. Kiggins Theater

Hidalgo
Aside from Viggo Mortenson's humorless performance, 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) Avalon, Valley Theater

* Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train See review this issue. Cinema 21

* I'm Not Scared
The advertising slogan for Gabriel Salvatore's I'm Not Scared, 'Who can you trust when everyone's a suspect?' lends a poignant and desperate resonance to the film's unsettling plot. In an isolated village in southern Italy, 10-year-old Michele (Giuseppe Cristiano) gradually uncovers an inhumane and jarring secret about his family. Michele's distrust of the people around him grows, and the young actor skillfully expresses the revelatory pain that arrives with the betrayal of unflinching childhood trust. (Evan James) Fox Tower 10

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) Laurelhurst

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 a 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 hit. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Bagdad Theater, Kennedy School, Laurelhurst, Mission Theater, Valley Theater

* Love Me If You Dare
A standout. A boy and girl grow to adulthood, bound together by an escalating game of dares. Will they consummate the romance that lies behind the game? Strikingly designed and shot, this film is by turns comedic, tense, and frightening. Inevitably reminiscent of Amèlie, but with a much darker worldview. (Mike Whybark) Fox Tower 10

* Mean Girls
Mean Girls is no Heathers--it lacks the surreal quality of the teenage years, the quality that's found a strange but correct analogue in supernatural teen dramas like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sabrina the Teenage Witch--but it's pretty good. Really, when you think about what sort of crap is out there for teenagers, about how teenagers live and interact and what Hollywood thinks is at stake for them (Chasing Liberty, anyone?), Mean Girls starts to look great. It's funny, lively, and smart, with a couple of characters who seem realer than not, and had I seen it as a teenager it might have changed something for me. Avalon Kennedy School, Lloyd Mall, Milwaukie 3 Theater, Mission Theater Mt. Hood Theater St. Johns Pub, Valley Theater

Metal and Melancholy
As part of their Dutch film series, the Film Center shows a slightly romantic story about love and dreams in hard economic times. Stringing together a series of vignettes, director Heddy Honigmann profiles a group of blackmarket taxi drivers--most who are moonlighting from "professional" jobs in order to make a bit of extra cash. In a genre that has since become trite (the film was made in 1993), each driver tells a captivating little quip. Whitsell Auditorium

Millennium Mambo
Winner of the Special Prize at Cannes, this Taiwanese film is a spicy number about the techno-pop, high-paced, and soul-draining world of Taipei. Told through the story of Vicki, a beautiful young woman with a crappy boyfriend. Guild Theater

* Mostly Martha
When her sister dies, workaholic chef Martha must step out of the kitchen and into the real world to care for her surviving niece. She's a fish out of water with real family, but feels like she's swimming with sharks at the restaurant, where the chef that's been hired to help during this rough period has charmed her entire staff. Beautiful food shots, clever montages, and the sparks that fly between chefs counterbalance a hurried conclusion. (Sarah Sternau ) Pix Patisserie

The Mother Fox Tower 10

New York Minute
The Olsen twins are agents of socialization in a conservative America; New York Minute is loaded with superficial morals ranging from familial friendship and personal responsibility, to a half-baked swipe at the evils of pirated music. What's worse, though, is that NYM's screenplay has some, hmm... racially unsound moments written by screenwriters apparently thinking with less depth than the Olsen's pedicurist. (Julianne Shepherd) Avalon Kennedy School

* The Producers
In an attempt to make a money-losing musical, failed producers Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel come up with a sure-fire Broadway flop: Springtime for Hitler. A hilarious parody of Broadway, commerce, and of course, those dirty stinking rat Nazis. Laurelhurst

The Saddest Music In the World
This is one hell of a film--or so it insists. From the very beginning it assaults its audience with the assertion that it is arty, deep, and important. This is first presented by the film's look--dark, grainy black-and-white that's purposely smeared, so that the edges of every scene and figure are blurred and distorted. It's pretty uncomfortable to watch, and the bizarre storyline only exacerbates the disorienting effects. Set in Winnipeg during the Great Depression, the film is about a wealthy beer baroness (Isabella Rossellini) who throws a radio contest to see which country produces the saddest music in the world (and to sell beer to the depressed masses, especially the Americans terrorized by prohibition). Representatives from all over the globe come to face off, tournament-style. Curiously, most of the music in this film is quickly cut short, squandering an opportunity to showcase a limitless range of powerful styles. Also, curiously, most of the music really doesn't seem all that sad. (Marjorie Skinner) Laurelhurst

* Saved!
This light-hearted flick is a teen comedy set, strangely enough, in a Southern Christian high school. And while one may assume these types of learning institutions are devoid of the standard public school cruelty, Saved! proves us wrong. After discovering her b-friend is G-A-Y, Mary (Jena Malone) turns to Jesus for help and decides that premarital sex is the answer to her prayers. However, not only does the boyfriend stay gay, Mary finds herself with a bun in her oven. Her pregnancy creates a divide between her Christian ethics and best friend, bitchy class queen Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore), who, after learning Mary's secret, sets out on a bitter path of destruction and revenge--all in the name of Christ, of course. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Movies on TV, Pioneer Place Stadium 6, Vancouver Plaza

Spitting Image
Produced by Alfred Heineken (yes, as in the beer) before his own real-life abduction, a story about how lying and spying can reinvigorate a boring life. Stuck in a cold-as-dead-fish marriage and trapped in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands, Ducker doesn't have much to look forward to. That is, until a look-alike spy parachutes into his backyard. Together, they team up to foil the Nazis and, in the process, flip on the on-switch of his life. Guild Theater

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring
The five seasons are governed by very different generic conventions--meaning it's entirely possible to enjoy one and abhor the next. The opening parable "Summer" is successful, but the next two episodes (a coming-of-age vignette and a cop drama) come up short by comparison. Then "Winter"--by far the most successful segment, and the only full episode to feature director Kim Ki-duk as the main character--explodes into an astounding ode to labor and atonement. (Annie Wagner) Cinemagic

The Stepford Wives
Sometimes a bad movie hits the spot. One that keeps you entertained despite the plot flaws and crappy acting with cool clothes or a funny sidekick. Not so with The Stepford Wives, a remake of the 1975 film that doesn't even have the courtesy to be diverting as it plummets to its failure. Joanna (Nicole Kidman) and her husband Walter (Matthew Broderick) move to Connecticut to escape the big city after Joanna loses her high-powered job and suffers a nervous breakdown. As they settle into their new town of Stepford, they notice that a few things are off. For instance, all the women are housewives and all the housewives are robots. "Hilarity" ensues. (Marjorie Skinner) Regal Cinemas, etc.

* Strange Brew
McKenzie Brothers Bob & Doug (Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas), are cast as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in this very Canadian 1982 reading of Hamlet. Blind Onion

* Stupidity
Since stupidity runs rampant, it's amazing the subject has never been given a full scientific treatment. However, documentarian Albert Nerenberg and his film Stupidity, have taken a step in the right direction. The first thing we learn about stupidity is that none of the people interviewed can define it. However, they do seem to know it when they see it. Nerenberg makes the case that in actuality, we know much more about the concept of intelligence--even though stupidity causes much more damage in the world. Using experts, Nerenberg gives us a guided tour of how 20th-Century scientists developed the I.Q. (intelligence quotient) test, and the surprising origins of words like "idiot," "moron," and "imbecile." An even more interesting theory is how corporations, politicians, and the entertainment industry have learned to use "stupidity" to sell their products. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Clinton Street Theater

* Super Size Me
In an inspired bout of artistic commitment, Morgan Spurlock set aside a month during which he ate nothing but McDonald's. The effects of this endeavor were astounding. He put on 30 pounds in 30 days, suffered periods of intense chest pain, shortness of breath, and was told by multiple doctors that if he continued at his unorthodox eating he would die from liver failure within six months. As the movie progresses, a palpable sense of dread mounts, as Spurlock continues to stuff McNuggets and french fries in the face of terrible health reports. (Justin Sanders) City Center 12, Regal Cinemas, etc.

* Thirst See review this issue. Clinton Street Theater

Titus
The movie based on the early, violent play by William Shakespeare, with plenty of scenery chewed by Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange. Fifth Avenue Cinemas

* Touching the Void
I'm not sure if Joe Simpson and Simon Yates are still active mountaineers, but it is clear that just speaking about their famous climb in this drama-documentary, detailing it in that near-formal language which distinguishes professional mountaineers from amateurs, gives them a pleasure that is satanic in its size and intensity. (Charles Mudede) Cinemagic

* 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) Hollywood Theatre

Valentin See review this issue. Fox Tower 10

Van Helsing
Hugh Jackman plays Van Helsing, a long-haired Nancy-boy, who is paid by the Vatican to run around Europe and kill monsters, and who's eventually sent to Transylvania to kill Dracula. On his journey, he meets up with a sweet piece of ass (Kate Beckinsale) who also wants to kill Dracula because--surprise!--he killed her family. BUT! Unbeknownst to them, Drac has an evil scheme in mind! (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Avalon Kiggins Theater, Laurelhurst, Valley Theater

* The Vanishing
Later adopted by Hollywood, this is the Dutch original--and so much more chilling. With Hitchcock simplicity, the story unfolds after a young woman is abducted from a roadside stop in France. Three years later, her boyfriend is still struggling to figure out why--and what happened to her, eventually coming face to face with her abductor. Whitsell Auditorium

* What the Fuck Do We Know?
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, Hollywood Theatre

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