* Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
It's got the most threadbare of plots, yet has more out-loud laffs per capita than any other movie in recent memory. It's the mid-'70s, and Ron Burgundy (SNL's Will Ferrell) is San Diego's top local news anchorman who gets more ass than a toilet seat. However, his idyllic life is shattered when anchorwoman Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) starts gunning for his seat. Written by Ferrell and SNL scribe Adam McKay, Anchorman plays like an extended sketch that actually works. While most comedies elicit three to five out-loud laughs from me at best, Anchorman provided a whopping 31. I know. I counted. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Regal Cinemas, etc.
* Before Sunset
For people who love love movies, Richard Linklater's 1995 film Before Sunrise is a staple. The story of a 20-something man (Ethan Hawke) and woman (Julie Delpy) who meet on a train, spark an interest in one other, and fall in love over one night in Vienna, BS is the stuff romance novels are made of. Once you resign yourself to being on a horribly pretentious date with Ethan and Julie, and you suspend disbelief long enough to accept them as real characters and former lovers, Before Sunset becomes better than okay. (Katie Shimer) City Center 12, Fox Tower 10
Blossoms of Fire
A "celebratory tribute" to the Zapotec women of Oaxaca, Mexico, who live in a matriarchal society--running their own businesses, creating their trademark textiles, and involving Zapotec's men in matters dealing with children and household duties. Filmmaker Maureen Gosling will be in attendance, and she'll also be attending two of the Northwest Film Center's programs on Saturday and Sunday--for details, hit nwfilm.org/education/school. Guild Theater
Freddy, an illegal immigrant from Bolivia, goes to Buenos Aires in hopes of making some money so his family can come join him. While he does get a job cooking at a local bar, the natives treat him badly, wondering why the bar owner hired him when so many Argentinans are unemployed. Freddy is unhappy and misses his family, and when one of his few friends turns on him, he loses his shit. Whitsell Auditorium
The Bourne Supremacy
To the giddy excitement of no one, Matt Damon returns as Jason Bourne, the amnesiac secret agent from The Bourne Identity. Bourne's once again doing what he did such an okay job of doing before: using clever spy tricks, acquiring Tom Clancy-ish espionage info, driving cars fast, and looking sad because he can't remember who he is. Like its predecessor, Supremacy is decent, but far from surprising or interesting; there are hints of something more challenging and involving, but as soon as these tantalizing threads appear, they're swept back under the smoothly marketable facade and it's back to the same old Bourne outsmarting the same old CIA, with nothing going on but tense music in the background. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Halfway through this film, I started to wonder how much actual 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. There was very little interview footage with train hoppers, 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, thanks to the following scene, I realized she didn't: Three burnt out rebellious hipsters sit around some hostel drinking beer and smoking pot. Their stoned conversation is utterly insipid, and yet Daniels feels it necessary to film them for a good ten minutes, perhaps because she feels that college dropouts who are living off their parents until they go back to school and get real jobs and settle down in middle class Suburbia with three kids and a spouse are the best example of the train hopping lifestyle. They aren't, but they're the best example that this overproduced mess of a film has to offer. (Justin Sanders) Guild Theater
The ridiculously named Patience Phillips (Halle Berry) is a shy and reserved employee of an eeevil cosmetic corporation that's secretly working on a product that will reverse the aging process--but eventually turn women into hideous monsters. Patience finds out, gets murdered, and for reasons known only to the dumbshits who wrote this movie, is resurrected with the powers of a cat. The reason the movie doesn't work is because no normal person gives a shit about Catwoman. Normal people might give a small shit about Spider-Man and Superman, but only the most Bettie Page-obsessed fanboy gives a shit about a minor character in a Batman comic. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Chronicles of Riddick
The good news? This sequel to Pitch Black is almost worth admission price for the set decoration and special effects alone. Unfortunately, though, effects can't make up for the fact that Vin Diesel sucks and the script is pure crap. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Avalon, Valley Theater
A Cinderella Story
Hilary Duff's new vehicle is yet another heavy-handed rehash of the fairytale, and one supposedly "benefited" by clunky modernizations and socially relevant subplots. What's suspiciously missing from the film, however, is even the vainest attempt to twist the Cinderella paradigm into something vaguely memorable. (Zac Pennington) Regal Cinemas, etc.
* Coffee and Cigarettes
A collection of black-and-white shorts directed by Jim Jarmusch. 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 unloosen, 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) Laurelhurst
Collateral See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
* The Control Room
American intellectuals/humanists often confuse Americanization not only with modernization but also with globalization, but Americanization is centered, whereas globalization is decentered. And this is what Control Room is about: the decentering of the West and the formation of the multiple capitals, information sources, and news stations that are outside of its diminishing borders. (Charles Mudede) Hollywood Theatre
* The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover
The IMDB says that this awkwardly named film is a "beautifully filmed but brutally uncompromising modern fable which has been interpreted as an allegory for Thatcherism." Fair enough. PSU Smith Memorial Union Rm 225
* The Corporation See review this issue. Cinema 21
This fascinating biography of songwriter Cole Porter does more than trumpet his gift for stunning sentimentality; the story revolves around Cole's (Kevin Kline) relationship with his wife (Ashley Judd), an engagement that grows tense as he carries out homosexual affairs with a dancer and several hunky Hollywood actors. The plot drags at times, but the film overflows with enough Porter musical numbers to maintain a strong emotional pull. (Evan James) City Center 12, Movies on TV, Pioneer Place Stadium 6
* Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
Vince Vaughn tries to save his hometown gym, Average Joe's, from the evil clutches of corporate gym owner White Goodman (Ben Stiller) by beating him in a dodgeball tournament. Some pretty funny jokes and a psychotically intense performance by Ben Stiller ensue. (Katie Shimer) Various Theaters
* Fahrenheit 9/11
What, like you don't know already? Various Theaters
When will scientists learn not to experiment? It only causes problems. Witness 1958's The Fly, in which a scientist conducting an experiment turns into a hideous half-man/half-fly creature. Prattle on and on about "scientific progress" and "modern knowledge" if you must, but kindly keep in mind what happens to those scientists who perform experiments... they turn into flies. Fifth Avenue Cinemas
Glen or Glenda
Oddball film legend Bela Lugosi narrates this 1953 Ed Wood film about (what else?) a boy who loves playing dress-up with lipstick and skirts. The perfect initiation into the pink angora world of Ed Wood, cross-dressing director extraordinaire. Old Town Pizza
* Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle
Dumb, dumb, dumb and dumb... but funny. A movie for stoners about stoners, about two high guys who see a commercial for White Castle and set out on a quest to nab some sliders. These guys just want pussy, weed and burgers--oh yeah, and racial equality. Along the way, they encounter hot sorority girls with the "taco shits," a rabid raccoon, a Jesus freak with oozing boils, a stoned cheetah, Doogie Howser, and every stereotype ever. You'll laugh in spite of your better self, and if you're bored and hot on a Tuesday night, smoke that nug 'o cheeb you've stashed in your underwear drawer and catch this one on the second-run circuit. (Michael Svoboda) Regal Cinemas, etc.
* A Home at the End of the World
Is the fact that Colin Farrell virtually disappears in this film a tribute to his acting ability, or a vindication of my theory he's a totally mediocre actor who can't hold his own amidst good actors? Either way, Farrell's bisexual Bobby character in Home at the End of the World is forgettable, while his supporting characters (played by Dallas Roberts and Robin Wright Penn) are vivid and wonderful. Roberts plays Jonathan, a gay-ish twenty-something (everyone in this movie is gayish, though no one seems to be full-on gay) who grew up with Bobby. As youths, the two friends had a sexual relationship, and when Bobby comes to visit Jonathan years after the fact in New York City, it becomes quickly evident the tension never really faded. But Jonathan also has a female roommate, Clare (Penn, who is too old for this character, yet still pulls it off), who Bobby has tension with as well. Lickety split, a love triangle ensues, Clare is knocked up, and the threesome go buy a house out in the country. It's weird but it kind of works, thanks largely to the incredible poignancy and depth Penn and Roberts bring to their characters. Meanwhile, Farrell plays Bobby with an intense vapidity that is supposed to convey an aura of gentle mystery, but instead just makes him seem mildly retarded. (Justin Sanders) Fox Tower 10
* I, Robot
While the film adaptation of I, Robot might be a really dumb version of Isaac Asimov's book, it's still probably the smartest action movie of the summer. The film opens in 2035, with robots thoroughly engrained in society and accepted by everyone except Detective Del Spooner (Will Smith). Spooner's misgivings are validated when the designer of the robots ends up dead, apparently killed by his latest robotic creation. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
* I'll Sleep When I'm Dead
A character-driven thriller, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead follows a retired gangster who gets back in the game in order to unravel the circumstances behind his younger brother's brutal murder. Fox Tower 10
* Independent Filmmaker Lecture Series
The latest in a series of independent filmmaker lectures, featuring an open format screening, discussion, and a Q & A. This week: Ian McCluskey, whose latest project is Sun Gu Ja, a documentary that utilizes first-hand accounts, archival and family photos and films, and traditional folk music to tell the 100-year history of Korean immigration to the Pacific Northwest. Fifth Avenue Cinemas
* King Arthur
Arthur (Clive Owen) is the legendary leader of a ragtag band of knights who defend the British countryside. On the eve of their freedom from conscription, this merry group is hoodwinked into going on one last mission If you're going to accept this film (and you are), it's going to have to be on its merits as a dumb action picture. (Sean Nelson) Lloyd Mall
Little Black Book
A young TV exec (Brittany Murphy) discovers the Palm Pilot of her boyfriend (Ron Livingston), then systematically and maliciously destroys his relationships with his ex-girlfriends. In doing so, of course, she also destroys her own relationship, culminating with a ton of crying. Mix all this with hammy performances by Kathy Bates and Holly Hunter and a stupid subplot dealing with Carly Simon, and you have two hours of fluffy drivel and Diet Mountain Dew product placement. Hollywood, why is Brittany Murphy getting her own film vehicles? She's one of the most cloying onscreen personalities ever, and her acting is shit, shit, shit. (Michael Svoboda) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Little Nemo's Adventures in Slumberland
An anime film about a young boy who can get drawn into a world created by his own dreams. Sci-Fi Trivia Fact #1: Little Nemo was co-written by sci-fi novelist Ray Bradbury and Harry Potter director Chris Columbus! Sci-Fi Trivia Fact #2: Little Nemo features the voice talent of René Auberjonois, who played Odo on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine! Weird. Clinton Street Theater
The Manchurian Candidate
War sucks, dude. There's no Ricki Lake, never enough peanut butter, and your dick can get shot off. Even worse, the enemy might capture you and brainwash you into thinking that the unpopular coward in your platoon saved your life. This seems to be the case for Capt. Ben Marco (Denzel Washington). Having recommended Sgt. Raymond Shaw (Liev Schreiber) for a medal of honor because of his supposed heroics, Marco's nightmares about Shaw tell a different story. Determined to discover the truth, Marco also has a deadline: Shaw, now a congressman, is running in the upcoming Presidential election. Compared to John Frankenheimer's 1962 classic, this remake blows. Though gripping, the new film is utterly patronizing--but perhaps that's fitting, considering today's moviegoers probably don't even know what Manchuria is. (Will Gardner) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Maria Full of Grace
There are a lot of reasons to appreciate Maria Full of Grace, not the least of which are its subtly beautiful cinematography and its impeccable performances. Unfortunately, the film--which follows a seventeen year-old Columbian girl, Maria (Catalina Sandino Moreno), as she decides to become a "mule," ingesting pellets full of heroin and smuggling them into the U.S. --doesn't really have much to say, other than being a mule really sucks. Profound, that. Writer/director Joshua Marston's flip-flopping characterization alienates the audience about halfway through, leaving only his simple, heavy-handed moral. At least there are some unintentional laughs along the way, like a poorly placed poster in the final shot that says "It's what's inside that really counts" and the fact that the title's way funnier if you pretend that "grace" is slang for "heroin." (Erik Henriksen) Fox Tower 10
* Mean Girls
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. (Emily Hall) Laurelhurst
* Metallica: Some Kind of Monster
Since the first time I rolled my eyes at my parents or slammed my bedroom door, I've been listening to Metallica. So Metallica: Some Kind of Monster is like a dream come true--not only is it an exposé about the most important band in my life, it's also a poignant musing on the price of fame and fortune. In the end, the film doesn't bring about any huge epiphanies other than "Wow, it must be hard to realize that you used to rule the world, but now you suck." That's enough to make this documentary a bizarre but utterly compelling watch--especially if you love the shit out of Metallica. (Katie Shimer) Cinemagic
* The Mudge Boy
When you consider Duncan Mudge's (Emile Hirsh) mother recently died, that he's living somewhere rural with his zombie-like father, and that he's questioning his sexuality, it's easy to see how a chicken has become his only friend. Enter Perry (Thomas Guiry), who scoops shit and milks cows under the eye of his abusive father. As these things go, Duncan and Perry form a strange and tenuous bond--but events turn dark and ugly when hormones, ignorance and confusion combine to make a brutal, angsty cocktail. The often untold stories of rural gay youth are an important facet of our country's collective history, and The Mudge Boy takes its subject seriously and follows the golden rule of poetic filmmaking: show, don't tell. (Michael Svoboda) Hollywood Theatre
* Napoleon Dynamite
There are plenty of laughs to mine from the pseudo-tortured lives of realistically nerdy, unpopular, and just plain odd 14- to 18-year-olds, and as Napoleon Dynamite proves, young geek alienation is just as fun to parody as its grownup counterparts. (Jennifer Maerz) Cinema 99, Division Street, Fox Tower 10, Movies on TV, Sherwood 10 , Tigard Cinemas, Vancouver Plaza
Night of the Living Dead
George Romero's zombie picture featuring lots of glazed eyeballs and gore. Go see this so you'll be all zombie-educated for the upcoming (and brilliant) Shaun of the Dead. (Erik Henriksen) Clinton Street Theater
The Notebook is based on a book by the biggest hackasaurus scribbling today, Nicholas Sparks. Directed by Nick Cassavettes (talentless son of supremely talented John Cassavettes), this film is utter bullshit--a weepy, obvious, and painfully unromantic romance. The anorexic story: Allie Nelson (Rachel McAdams) and Noah Calhoun (Ryan Gosling) meet cute, date cute, break-up not-so-cute, and re-unite cute. Along the way, there are stints in WWII, flings with widows, proposals from wealthy gentlemen, and family strife. Ugh. (Bradley Steinbacher) Century Eastport 16, City Center 12, Lloyd Mall, Movies on TV, Tigard Cinemas
* Open Water See review this issue. Pioneer Place Stadium 6
* Orlo Video Slam
The second heat in Orlo's annual video slam showcases local films having to do with the theme "Plastic Culture." Local film geeks have been working on their four-minute opuses for a few months now, but feel free to run out and shoot one yourself (four-minute time limit strictly enforced!). See orlo.org for rules and regulations, and if you're not all that ambitious, just show up and watch. Orlo
A romantic comedy starring Paul Rudd, Christine Taylor, Reese Witherspoon, and Sarah Silverman. But the real draw here is one of the extras: the owner of Pix Patisserie, Cheryl! And you thought big-time movie stars never came to Portland. Pix Patisserie
Portland Indie Animation Festival 2004
See My, What A Busy Week! The Know
The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
Opens Wednesday, August 11. Watch for our film short next week.
* Repo Man
After Otto's (Emilo Estevez) life takes a quick tumble into the crapper, he gets a job reposessing cars. Craziness ensues in this 1984 comedy. Blind Onion
* Riding Giants
This fascinating exploration of the culture of big-wave surfing by the director of the skateboarding documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys is distinguished first by the quality of its footage. I have no idea how director Stacy Peralta and his crew managed to get on top of the water the way they do, but the actual surfing in this movie is heroic. Your heart rises and your breath leaves you as the surfers take on waves of 20, 30, 80 feet--waves that could easily kill them--then go back for more, then go back again. It's a cliché to say that surfers live to surf, but after seeing this film, it's a lot easier to understand why. Peralta treats his movie as a sociological inquiry into a legitimate American subculture; instead of the usual stereotype of dumb, quasi-mystical hunks, Peralta offers his subjects up as athletes and innovators. (Sean Nelson) Fox Tower 10
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) Bagdad Theater, Kennedy School
* Seeing Other People
Seeing Other People is, not surprisingly, the story of the perfect couple who decide to sow their wild oats before settling into marriage. Jay Mohr is the boyfriend, Julianne Nicholson is the girlfriend, and the two play off each other with the charming believability of a couple who've been together for five years. An all star line-up including Andy Richter and Gilmore Girls' Lauren Graham gives the film great comic timing, and the simple, true-to-life script makes anyone whose ever been in a long-term relationship laugh and nod their head in agreement. This is one of the best (and funniest) relationship movies since Meet the Parents. (Katie Shimer) Hollywood Theatre
* Spider-Man 2
Picking up two years after the first film, Spider-Man 2 plays to the comics' inimitable strength: nerdy Peter Parker's (Tobey Maguire) daily balancing act of school, part time jobs, and wooing Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), even as he pulls on tights every night as Spider-Man. Unlike its banal predecessor, Spider-Man 2 feels lifted right out of the comics--this is great for comic fanboys, who will spend two hours in orgasmic glee, but mainstream audiences will be rewarded as well. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
* The Story of the Weeping Camel
A fascinating look at modern life in the Mongolian desert, framed by the slightest of stories about camel relationships. Some of the staged animal interactions can get a little Disneyfied--you can almost hear Phil Collins wailing on the soundtrack--but this combination of narrative and documentary is otherwise irresistible. (Andrew Wright) Fox Tower 10
Based on the '60s children's show, this insipid update features Bill Paxton as Jeff Tracy, who, along with his Abercrombie-ish teenage sons, uses rocketships to rescue those in distress. When an evil mastermind (Ben Kingsley) strikes, it's up to the youngest son (Brady Corbet) to rip off Spy Kids as much as possible and, if there's time, protect his family. Thunderbirds is a worthless, sickly morass of candy-colored CGI and trite messages about the importance of family, all of it targeted at a target audience that apparently consists of borderline-retarded pre-teen boys. The "action" comes from lame-ass rockets, the "comedy" from making fun of stuttering people, and the "entertainment" from wondering whether or not Kingsley is intentionally committing career suicide or just forgot that he once won an Oscar for playing Gandhi. (Erik Henriksen) Cinema 99, Division Street, Lloyd Mall, Movies on TV, Oak Grove 8 Theater, Westgate
* Transformers: The Movie
The cast includes Orson Welles, Eric Idle, Judd Nelson, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Stack, and Scatman Crothers. The story involves Autobots battling the evil Decepticons. The soundtrack includes the song "The Touch," which was covered--and subsequently immortalized--by Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights. The film, in a word, is amazing. (Bradley Steinbacher) Clinton Street Theater
* Two Brothers
Jean-Jacques Annaud's great trick is to turn the essential, undeniable, heart-exploding adorability of two tiger cubs into the stuff of proper drama. (Sean Nelson) Avalon, Kennedy School, Milwaukie 3 Theater, Valley Theater
Local drag kings act in a Super-8 parody of the 1967 film The Graduate. The performances are good, and the film is overall watchable, although oddly, the point seems to be showing women dressed as men more than telling a story or making a point. There are a few funny one-liners, however, and reliving the Dustin Hoffman film in a shorter bizarre incarnation is entertaining, if not all that creative. (Katie Shimer) Newspace
* The Village
There are those who think M. Night Shyamalan is brilliant, and those who think he's an overrated hack. The Village will give both camps plenty of ammunition--it's by far his most confident and subtle film yet, but it's also his most uneven. The film follows the residents of an isolated 1897 settlement, their peaceful lives marred only by the mysterious, violent creatures that prowl the surrounding woods. Just as Shyamalan's previous films (The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs) weren't really about ghosts, superheroes, or aliens, The Village is hardly about monsters lurking in the forest--here, the main foci are the romance between Ivy Walker (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix), and the moral decisions of one of the village elders, Edward Walker (William Hurt). (Considering when and where the film's set, it's also somewhat surprising that The Village proves to be the most contemporarily relevant of Shyamalan's films.) Shyamalan slowly and steadily ramps up the film's tension until it's almost painful to watch, and in large part thanks to his cast, this graceful thriller succeeds on both an emotional and visceral level. And yes, the patented Shyamalan Shocking Twist Ending is in effect, though one suspects it would be a hell of a lot more shocking if audiences hadn't learnt from Shyamalan's past three films to expect it. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.