I wouldn't ever say that Appleseed is a "good" movie, but I would say that it's a "fucking awesome" one. The cel-shaded, computer animated anime is filled with gorgeous, hyper-realistic backgrounds populated by shiny-skinned, spiky-haired protagonists. The action-packed visuals are the reason to see the film, but the plot--even as it shamelessly swipes from Blade Runner and pretty much whatever else you can think of--somehow manages to encompass all of anime's most annoying standards (words like "bioroid," a Napoleonic fetish for giant mechanical suits) while remaining (mostly) coherent and entertaining. (Erik Henriksen) Clinton Street Theater
Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown
"Why Linus, I never knew you felt that way!" Blind Onion
It's a sad story: After Tim's (Barry Watson) dad gets sucked into the closet by the Boogeyman, the poor dude spends half a lifetime trying to reconcile what happened, and intensely fearing closets all the while. Then Tim is forced to head back to his hometown, where--guess what--he decides to tackle his fears and spend one terrifying night in the house. (Katie Shimer) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Chased By the Light & A Lot In Common
Chased By the Light is about nature photographer Jim Brandenburg, while A Lot In Common looks at a community garden. First Unitarian Church
A documentary about Thebe Medupe, a South African astrophysicist attempting to reconcile traditional folklore with his scientific approach to the cosmos. A selection of the 15th Annual Cascade Festival of African Films. PCC Cascade Campus
Gonaba (Eriq Ebouaney) returns from school in France to his home to Africa. Shocked by the injustice shown to the Baaka people (who are more humorously known as "pygmies"), he decides to live with them. A selection of the 15th Annual Cascade Festival of African Films. PCC Cascade Campus
Hitch See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
* Krull & Willow
Rock that '80s fantasy shit! Chance of Rain Cafe
A film about Africa's female excision. Moolaadé focuses on Collé (Fatoumata Coulibaly), the wife of a village elder who refuses to have her daughter undergo the procedure. A selection of the 15th Annual Cascade Festival of African Films. PCC Cascade Campus
To enter a film, send an email to email@example.com. Crepe Soleil
Teachers at Whitwell Middle School in Tennessee developed a curriculum that used the Holocaust as an example of unchecked intolerance; after finding it difficult to conceptualize the number of Holocaust victims, students set out to collect one paperclip for every Jewish death. This well-meaning but schlocky documentary follows the project from its inception to the final creation of a Holocaust memorial in Whitwell. (Alison Hallett) Fox Tower 10
A doc about Jim Pepper, who "melded Native American music with jazz" and "was one of the innovators of jazz-rock fusion." Fifth Avenue Cinemas
* Remember Me, My Love
Exquisitely shot and skillfully acted, Remember Me, My Love proves that even beautiful Italians get depressed. A family of four tries to come to grips with the vapid meaninglessness of their bourgeois lives, seeking escape in sex, fame, and doomed relationships. It turns out people all over the world are sad, mean and obsessed with getting on television--Italians are just way better dressed. (Ryan Dirks) Hollywood Theatre
* The Sea Inside
Javier Bardem plays the real-life Spaniard Ramón Sampedro, a middle-aged quadriplegic who wants to die. The Sea Inside doesn't rehash the tired moral debate regarding death with dignity. Instead, it's an exquisitely thoughtful, gorgeously filmed portrayal of a sad and wonderful person. (Justin Sanders) Fox Tower 10
Signs Out of Time: The Story of Archaeologist Marija Gimbutas
Marija Gimbutas discovered a bunch of "goddess sculptures" dating from 6500 BCE to 3500 BCE. This is a documentary about her. PSU Hoffman Hall Auditorium
Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation
While we get to see 25 new, supposedly "sick and twisted" cartoons courtesy of Spike and Mike, the whole concept is starting to smell as fresh as a Monty Python routine. The upsides: three Happy Tree Friends shorts (which you can rent at the video store). The downside: practically everything else. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Cinema 21
Student Film Screening
Students of the Northwest Film Center's Shooting Digital Video class show their stuff. Old Town Pizza
Telluride Film Festival
The PSU Outdoor Program celebrates (surprise!) the environment. Films kick off with Daughters of Everest, about a group of women sherpas trying to climb Mount Everest, followed by other long and short films. PSU Smith Memorial Union
* Valley Girl
Part of the Mercury's Prozac Film Fest! See "My, What A Busy Week!" on page 9. Clinton Street Theater
WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception
Self-proclaimed "Media Dissector" Danny Schechter ambitiously tackles every aspect of the relationship between the U.S. military and the major news networks. WMD forgets that we've heard most of this before; for all of Schechter's earnest attempts at muckraking, most of his revelations fall flat. (Alison Hallett) Hollywood Theatre
Winner of the Jury Award at Cannes in 1987, Yeelen follows the son of a magician as he strikes out on his own. PSU Smith Memorial Union
10th District Court (France)
Like Judge Judy. In French.
20:30:40 (Hong Kong/Taiwan)
A blithe, lighthearted look at the lives of three women living in Tapei. Writer/director Sylvia Chang aims to give a glimpse of what women want and need at various points in their lives, and the three lead actresses are charming almost to a fault as they scamper around the city looking for love and acceptance, their lives intersecting in subtle ways. (Alison Hallett)
* The Ballad of Jack and Rose See review this issue.
Beautiful Boxer (Thailand)
A dramatic biopic about famed kickboxer Nong Toom (Asanee Suwan), who kicked all sorts of ass in order to raise money for his sex-change operation.
Born Into Brothels (US)
Brothels follows the efforts of co-director/photographer Zana Briski to save the children of Calcutta's sex workers. Briski's struggle is worthy of sainthood, but her resulting document, after an absolutely engrossing first reel, follows a slightly frustrating route: the focus shifts to a more conventional individual vs. the system story, and away from the fairly miraculous day-to-day existence of the kids. (Andrew Wright)
Buffalo Boy (Vietnam)
15-year-old Kim (The Lu Le) is charged with herding the family's water buffaloes to the mountains. Meeting up with some fiercely independent buffalo keepers, Kim has to decide whether to live as a nomad or stay true to his family.
Cold Light (Iceland)
A 40-year-old man in Reykjavik is haunted by events from his childhood... that is, until he starts an art class, and gets the hots for his teacher!
* Crying Ladies (Philippines)
Three women in Manila's Chinatown make their livings as professional mourners (or criers) at traditional Chinese funerals.
* Daybreak (Sweden) See review this issue.
Days of Santiago (Peru)
A young soldier, Santiago (Pietro Sibille) returns to Lima, only to find his family distant, his rigid habits out of place, and his only real career option being robbing a bank.
* Dear Frankie (Britain)
Thanks to maudlin tearjerkers aimed at the Oprah crowd, the adjective "heartwarming" is pretty much a curse at this point--so it's a nice surprise that Dear Frankie is both "heartwarming" and "good." Frankie (Jack McElhone) is a deaf boy who's constantly on the move with his young mother, Lizzie (Emily Mortimer). The one constant in Frankie's life are loving letters from his dad, who travels the world as a sailor. Turns out, however, that it's really Lizzie who writes the letters--so when the ship Frankie's dad supposedly sails on comes into town, Lizzie has to find someone to pretend to be the perfect dad. (Erik Henriksen)
* The Edukators (Germany)
Three young pseudo-revolutionaries (Daniel Brühl, Julia Jentsch, and Stipe Erceg) get caught by the rich owner (Burghart Klaussner) of the house they're vandalizing. Panicking, they kidnap him--only to find themselves re-examining themselves and their beliefs, even as the kidnapped businessman does the same. (Erik Henriksen)
The Flying Classroom (Germany)
Five boarding school friends fight bullies, play music, chase girls and keep their favorite teacher from getting fired. There's not a scrap of originality in the entire movie, but it's cute and funny enough to see--particularly since this remake of the 1954 original has been retro-fitted to include the nerdiest rap sequence I've ever seen in my life. (Alison Hallett)
Four Shades of Brown (Sweden)
The NWFC boasts that this film stars "Killingg...nget," a "popular comedy troupe" that's "roughly a Swedish Monty Python."
Hari Om (India)
A French tourist (Camille Natta) flees from her boyfriend by jumping in the rickshaw of Hari Om (Vijay Raaz), who's on the run from the rickshaw mafia. Whoa! There's a rickshaw mafia? Awesome!
Depressed Cahit (Birol nel) meets young Sibel (Sibel Kekilli) in a psychiatric clinic, and--as both are desperate to escape their culturally mandated roles--they get married. The convenient mismatch somehow works, until (of course) love enters into the equation.
* Kekexilli: Mountain Patrol (China)
A haunting, semi-true story, largely driven by Ritai, the stern-jawed leader of a group of Tibetan/Chinese men who have appointed themselves as the "mountain patrol." With Ahab-like obsession, Ritai and his gang pursue a band of antelope poachers across hundreds of miles of tundra. (Phil Busse)
* Look At Me (France)
The daughter of a famous author, Lolita contends with his abrasive and often dismissive parenting, boys who use her to get to him, and the gorgeous, diet-obsessed stepmother who's barely older than herself. Gifted with a beautiful voice and an admiration for her voice instructor, it's a moving splendor to see Lolita's struggle for success and affection. (Marjorie Skinner)
* Machuca (Chile) See review this issue.
The Man Who Copied (Brazil)
Good kids get away with all manner of criminal behavior in this cheerful coming-of-age story about a boy with a dead-end job operating a photocopy machine. It's easy to sympathize with the frustrated ambitions of the copy boy, but there's always something creepy about movies where the screenplay attempts to soothe guilt about voyeurism by assuring the viewer that the girl in question was an exhibitionist all along. (Anne Wagner)
Mercano the Martian (Argentina)
Mercano is a Martain stuck on Earth; through a half-assed plot device, he ends up experiencing the worst that modern culture and business have to offer. When Mercano is fast and funny, it's quite clever, but most of the film tries too hard to make vague, tired condemnations of consumerism and capitalism. Yawn. (Erik Henriksen)
The Merchant of Venice (US)
With his huge, exhausted eyes and gravelly voice, Al Pacino is the physical embodiment of Shylock, Shakespeare's famously indignant Jewish merchant. Michael Radford's historically accurate spin on this old hash weights even the comedic points with somber undertones--it's a dreary journey that only Shakespeare die-hards will take to. (Justin Sanders)
* Millions See review this issue.
Notre Musique (France)
Godard isn't for everyone, and his newest film is no exception. "Notre Musique" is divided into three sections: Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. Hell is a montage, gorgeously soundtracked, of images of violence. Purgatory is Sarajevo, where Godard lectures on semiotics and a young Jewish girl contemplates suicide, and Heaven appears to be a fenced island guarded by the U.S. military.
The Other Side of the Street (Brazil)
A retired woman (Fernanda Montenegro) prowls the streets of Copacabana, looking for things to report to the cops. When she sees a prominent judge killing his wife, she reports it--only to have the police tell her she's mistaken.
The Ritchie Boys (Germany)
"The Ritchie Boys" were German-Americans in WWII, and they used their knowledge of German language and culture to help America demoralize German troops and interrogate prisoners.
Rory O'Shea Was Here (Ireland)
Rory O'Shea Was Here follows two physically disabled Irishmen, Michael and Rory, as they move from a group home to an apartment in the "real" world of Dublin. There is an unavoidable cheese factor built into the plot, with Michael (Steven Robertson) unable to speak understandably and Rory (James McAvoy) unable to shut up, and each leaning on the other to get by. But the film is saved by a refusal to completely gloss over the tough issues that it raises. (Ryan Dirks)
* Saint Ralph (Canada)
Through precocious and circuitous logic, Catholic school 9th grader Ralph (Adam Butcher) is convinced that if he miraculously wins the Boston Marathon, his ailing mother will wake up from her coma. Though the film does its best to pluck out your bleeding heart, the bulk of it is a light, endearing comedy about the ultimate underdog and the power of stubborn perseverance. (Marjorie Skinner)
This story moves slowly through a short period in the life of a teenage boy called Schizo (Oldzhas Nusupbayev), who may or may not have schizophrenia. The boy is involved in some shady dealings, but the film suffers because few of the characters invoke compassion or concern, save for one charming young kid who spends hours wearing goggles and diving for change in a bathtub. (Kate Shimer)
* Short Cuts I
Shorts from all over the world. Included is Jo Jo in the Stars, which might just be the most gorgeous and inventive short film you've ever seen.
Short Cuts II
Another collection of shorts, with all of these coming from Portland--including works from Bill Daniel, Will Vinton, and Matt McCormick.
The Syrian Bride (Israel)
A woman from Israel's Golan Heights (Clara Khoury) prepares to cross into Syria to meet her new husband--for the first time.
Touch the Sound (Germany)
A film about Evelyn Glennie, who's almost completely deaf yet uses her body to "capture sounds and transform them into stunning music."
Tropic of Cancer (Mexico)
A documentary about poor families in central Mexico, who must rely on primitive hunting--checking traps in the desert for small animals--in order to survive.
* Turtles Can Fly (Iraq/Iran) See review this issue.
The Waiting Room (Turkey)
A film director gets all pissy when he can't find an actor for his adaptation of Crime and Punishment. But when a thief breaks into his house, the director thinks he's found his man.
The World (China)
A film theoretically about globalization, and literally about a young dancer and her boyfriend who work in a Beijing theme park that features miniaturized versions of the world's great sights/tourist traps.
Yoshino's Barber Shop (Japan)
A tale about a small town where all the kids have the same dorky haircut. That is, until Yosuke (Noritsugu Ishida)--the handsome young city scamp with a rock star haircut--moves in, and all the other kids realize they look like idiots. It's an obvious parable, which the film explores only superficially. (M. William Helfrich)
Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (US)
A documentary about Los Angeles' short-lived cable channel devoted to rare films and its demise in 1998 when is programmer, Jerry Harvey, killed his wife and himself. Features rare clips and interviews with Quentin Tarantino, Robert Altman, Alexander Payne, Jim Jarmusch, and Penelope "I Directed Wayne's World" Spheeris.