Portland Queer Documentary Film Festival
All films screen at Clinton St. Theater. Most films weren't screened for press; see queerdocfest.org for more info.
Boy I Am
A film examining how lesbians and feminists have reacted to "transmen," women who have undergone female-to-male transitions. Co-director Sam Feder in attendance.
A free screening of the Sundance-approved doc about police veteran Laurel Hester, who attempts to transfer her pension to her life partner when she's faced with lung cancer. Followed by a panel discussion on the state of same-sex marriage in Oregon.
Hot and Bothered
Two short films, Lesbian Sex and Sexuality: The Evolution of Erotica and Eye on the Guy: Alan B. Stone and the Age of Beefcake. See Film on pg. 42.
Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis
A look at "underground filmmaker, photographer, 'father of performance art,' penniless anti-capitalist, and fabulous mad queen" Jack Smith.
Juchitan, Queer Paradise
A film about "queer life in a small city in Southern Mexico."
No Secret Anymore: The Times of Del Martin & Phyllis Lyon
A film about the lesbian couple who launched the first public organization for lesbians in 1955. Preceded by short film One Wedding and a Revolution. Director Joan E. Biren in attendance.
On the Downlow
Director Abigail Child in attendance. See Film on pg. 42.
Red without Blue
Co-directors Benita and Todd Sills will be in attendance, as will be Mark and Clair Farley, the subjects of the film. See Film on pg. 42.
An examination of the fight for gay marriage in Massachusetts, "the forefront of the battle to legalize gay marriage in America." Co-director Mike Roth in attendance.
Portland Underground Film Festival
The Clinton St. Theater's roundup of underground cinema returns! It all kicks off on Thursday night, with Random Lunacy: Videos From the Road Less Traveled, about a ramblin', Dixieland jazz-playing family, and Palace of Stains, a film that was shot in one day. (Palace's director, Bob Moricz, will be in attendance.) See next week's Mercury for the full rundown on PUFF (or, if you can't wait, hit clintonsttheater.com/PUFF/). Clinton St. Theater
God, 300 is dumb. I don't mean that as a pejorative, just as an observation: If movies were schoolchildren, 300 would be the one in the back of the room, several years too old and wearing a dunce cap, drawing bad pictures of explosions, and occasionally getting caught masturbating. This doesn't mean that 300 is any less fun to hang out with—shit, he's probably way more fun to kick it with than those suck-ups taking notes in the front row—but still. He's just... dumb, is all. Really, really dumb. ERIK HENRIKSEN Avalon, Edgefield, Kennedy School, Laurelhurst, Milwaukie Cinemas, Mission Theater, St. Johns Theater & Pub.
AFTER THE WEDDING
The Scandinavian Wedding's long and ever-evolving story begins in India, where a handsome Danish man, Jacob (Mads Mikkelsen), has been running an orphanage on the brink of closure. An unexpected glimmer of hope arrives when a multi-millionaire from Denmark, Jørgen (Rolf Lassgård), materializes to consider a hefty donation to the orphanage; Jacob eventually winds up at the wedding of Jørgen's daughter, Anna. When Anna reveals a family secret, the ambling plot shifts so suddenly that it forces you empathize with the characters' surprise. Things get more complicated from there, making it difficult to discern what sort of movie After the Wedding is until more than halfway through. What begins as a clash between idealism and imperialism starts to look like a love triangle, then a whodunit, then a whodunit with no bad guys, and finally, a torrent of humanity and a bit more melodrama than this critic can handle without an eye roll. MARJORIE SKINNER Living Room Theaters.
This perfectly charming French film follows a young woman who moves to Paris and becomes a waitress in a popular cafe. Various storylines intersect, and she becomes involved in the lives of her customers, who range from a concert pianist aching for career change, to an aging art collector who's decided to sell his collection. ALISON HALLETT Laurelhurst.
A film that accuses America's government of "military and civilian experimentation dating back over 60 years." Not screened for critics. Clinton Street Theater.
Bicycle Drive-In/Outdoor Film Screening + Live Music
See Arts on pg. 38. Artemisia Garden & Gallery.
Blades of Glory
Will Ferrell and Jon Heder play competing men's figure skaters with wildly different styles, who, after tying for a gold medal, whip each other's asses and get permanently barred from the singles' competition. Pariahs in the sport, a former coach persuades them to return to figure skating—but as two guys skating in the pairs division?! Whaaaa??? LET THE HOMOPHOBIC HILARITY ENSUE! WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Regal Cinemas, etc.
What? A crappy-looking horror film that wasn't screened for critics? Why, I never.... Cornelius Stadium Cinemas, Sandy Cinema.
Much like the revival of '80's fashion, I'm not quite sure how to feel about this film. Vai is a teenage girl who grew up knowing very little about her dead mother; now, in her late teens, she discovers old films in the attic of her mother and father in their native (and fictional) country of Otisia. As any artistically inclined teenager would, Vai decides to document what she learns from the films with a friend. By digging deeper into the pasts of her parents, a harsh and frightening story is revealed. The movie flips between footage of the past and the present , and while the story of her parents' life in Otisia is intriguing, the plot line of the present is awkward, mostly due to stiff and contrived acting. SHAUNA MORRIS Hollywood Theatre.
Carlos Saura's 1976 film about "the sometimes funny, sometimes painful, often absurd process of shedding childhood fears and illusions." Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Dazed and Confused
"The older you get, the more rules they're gonna try an' get you to follow. You just gotta keep on livin', man. L-I-V-I-N." Bagdad Theater.
It would be a mistake to characterize Exterminating Angels as anything other than erotica—self-aware, angsty erotica, but erotica nonetheless. François (Frédéric van den Driessche) is a director who decides to make a movie about how women experience pleasure (yeah, THAT kind of pleasure). Angels, unfortunately, gets mired in the non-naked aspects of the plot, turning what could be a genuinely sexy bit of pornography into a lackluster, ultimately unsatisfying thriller. ALISON HALLETT Living Room Theaters.
WARNING! WARNING! FOLK SINGER ALERT! Fatherland is about an "East German who writes and sings protest songs." Not screened for critics (thankfully). Living Room Theaters.
Hal Hartley's sequel to 1997's Henry Fool picks up the story 10 years later: Fay (Parker Posey) is nearing the end of her rope, constantly reminded of her husband's notoriety and worried about how his absence is affecting the behavior of their son. Enter the wonderfully charming Jeff Goldblum as a CIA agent who approaches Fay to enlist her help in retrieving her husband's notebooks. Cutting a deal that involves Fay's brother being released from jail, Fay is thrown into the world of international espionage. (It's kinda like The Good Shepherd, but actually good, and funny, and not so boring, or hard to follow.) KAITLYN BURCH Clinton Street Theater.
See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
Grindhouse isn't a film, or a piece of art, or the latest from two of our best directors, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. No—it's just a balls-out, no-holds-barred movie, the kind that demands to be seen late at night, in a crowded theater, with a bunch of friends to share the laughs and thrills. ERIK HENRIKSEN Bagdad Theater, Laurelhurst, Mission Theater.
A brave hobbit must traverse Middle-Earth in order to destroy the One Ring before the mighty and evil Suaron—oh, wait. Never mind. Wrong Peter Jackson movie. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
The Korean The Host takes a few cues from the classic Godzilla, but adds a few twists of its own—in other words, it's got all the best parts of an old-school monster movie, plus enough intellectual subtext to keep the art-house crowd happy. More importantly, it's simply one of the coolest, most enjoyable, and cleverest films to come along in years. ERIK HENRIKSEN Laurelhurst.
See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
Perhaps my favorite quote about film comes from Lady Vengeance director Park Chanwook: "I don't feel enjoyment watching films that evoke passivity. If you need that kind of comfort, I don't understand why you wouldn't go to a spa." ERIK HENRIKSEN Living Room Theaters.
Meet the Robinsons
Do you like cute stuff? Funny stuff? Orphan stuff? Dinosaur stuff? YEAH! ME FUCKING TOO! I also like time travel, jaded babies, incompetent villains, frogs, science (the non-boring kind), and futures both utopian and dystopian. Oh, and Tom Selleck's moustache (the most!). WELL. Apparently those crazy Imagineers over at Disney have been peeking at my cinematic wish-list, because all of a sudden it's like SOMEBODY dropped a hilarious-orphan-dinosaur-future-frog-bomb RIGHT ON TOM SELLECK'S SILKY UPPER LIP. And they call it Meet the Robinsons. And I love it. Lewis (Jordan Fry) is a 12-year-old boy genius who lives in an orphanage with his world-weary roommate, Michael "Goob" Yagoobian (funny like only a tiny, sleepy, emotionally crippled child can be). After screwing up his 124th adoption interview, Lewis invents a machine to scan his own memory and track down his real mother. Enter the mysterious Bowler Hat Man (hapless man, diabolical hat), all spindly and toothy, determined to steal the machine; and Wilbur Robinson, boy of the future, determined to stop him. The kids head to the future, a dazzling Technicolor land of topiaries, bubbles, and robots, where Lewis does the titular thing, everyone is hilarious, and history is saved ("It's been a long hard day filled with emotional turmoil and dinosaur fights"). But why are we still even talking about this? I assume I had you at Tom Selleck's Fucking Moustache. LINDY WEST Regal Cinemas, etc.
See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
Jhumpa Lahiri's best-selling novel The Namesake spans two generations and two continents in its exploration of culture, identity, and family. That's a lot of ground to cover in a couple hours, but director Mira Nair deftly translates the tale to the big screen—The Namesake captures the immigrant experience with a complexity and nuance that is usually reserved for literature. ALISON HALLETT Hollywood Theatre.
"Can the imaginary training of 15 years be put to use?" Living Room Theaters.
See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
If raving reviews and a rapturous response at Cannes are to believed, Pan's Labyrinth is Guillermo del Toro's masterpiece. Set in post-civil war Spain, Labyrinth follows a young girl, Ofelia (Ivana Baquero); as post-war fascism dominates her life, she discovers an ancient forest presided over by a faun who's at once welcoming and sinister (Doug Jones). Descending into a world of myth, danger, and horror, Ofelia's story becomes twofold—roughly half of Labyrinth deals with historical drama, while the other explores the fantastic and symbolic. Largely, Labyrinth is breathtaking: Rich performances, stunning visuals, and an assured, original tone demonstrate how dear the material is to del Toro. ERIK HENRIKSEN Laurelhurst.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
The final (yeah, right) installment in the ridiculously profitable series is overlong, overwritten, and not that satisfying—but okay, yeah, it's still a pretty solid popcorn flick. ERIK HENRIKSEN Regal Cinemas, etc.
Shrek the Third
Just like the rest of America, you're going to see Shrek the Third. It's everywhere, gargantuan and inescapable. Best to sit down, clench your jaw, get through it. Think of it like a trip to the dentist. ERIK HENRIKSEN Regal Cinemas, etc.
Like its protagonist, Spider-Man 3 is a movie with an identity crisis. The biggest, loudest, and darkest film in the series, Spider-Man 3 is also messy and ill conceived—a clunky, straining blockbuster that tries to accomplish everything and ends up achieving not much of anything. ERIK HENRIKSEN Regal Cinemas, etc.
An obvious attempt to create an Aboriginal version of the Inuit masterpiece The Fast Runner—ancient mythologies, ancient languages, National Geographic-worthy boobs—but unlike its snowbound counterpart, Ten Canoes is a boring mess. CHAS BOWIE Cinema 21.
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
Get your Ingrid Bergman on! Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
The Wind That Shakes the Barley
British director Ken Loach surveys his setting with an unforgiving, steady eye: Involving the Irish Civil War and the Irish War of Independence, the story of The Wind That Shakes the Barley is closely tied to that of the Irish Republican Army. Brothers Damien (Cillian Murphy) and Teddy (Padraic Delaney) are set in disparate directions: Damien to study in London, and Teddy to stay behind. But several vicious actions by Ireland's British occupiers change Damien's mind—soon, he's fighting in the IRA alongside his brother. But the real conflict begins when the British and Irish sign a treaty—while Teddy accepts the compromise, Damien is intent on continuing the fight. Barley won the Palme d'Or at Cannes, and it's apparent why immediately: The plight of the rural Irish is painstakingly detailed, though screenwriter Paul Laverty's story is less about politics and more about obsession. ERIK HENRIKSEN Hollywood Theatre.
Year of the Dog
Mike White's Year of the Dog is destined to occupy the Twee Cinema aisle of your local video store—right next to movies like Little Miss Sunshine and Me and You and Everyone We Know. Molly Shannon plays Peggy, a woman who listens to her coworkers complain about their love lives day in and day out, then silently eats dinner with her adorable beagle every night. But when her pooch unexpectedly dies, her world crumbles, and we watch her slowly dissolve into an unexpected form of madness: animal rights activism. There's great writing and lots of laugh-out-loud moments at first, but White has no idea how to wrap this movie up, so the second half drags and meanders until a startlingly sloppy ending is slapped on with five minutes left in the film. CHAS BOWIE Laurelhurst.