28 Weeks Later
So this is how zombie invasions continue: not with screams, but with yawns and unintentional laughter. ERIK HENRIKSEN Regal Cinemas, etc.
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 Regal Cinemas, etc.
Ballad of a Soldier
Grigori Chukhrai's 1959 Russian film is considered by many to be the precursor to Red Dawn. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Beauty and the Beast
Whoa. Jean Cocteau directed Disney cartoons? Crazy! Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
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 Academy, Avalon, Bagdad Theater, Edgefield, Kennedy School, Laurelhurst, Milwaukie Cinemas, Mission Theater, Valley Theater.
Brian Libby: Travelogues
Aside from serving as one of the Oregonian's resident art critics, Brian Libby is something of a filmmaker to boot. A seasoned traveler, Libby brings his video camera on his travels to places like Tokyo and Amsterdam (he also spends plenty of time shooting in Portland), and then edits his lyrically investigative footage into experimental shorts, layered with soundtracks by composers such as Eric Shopmeyer and Ned Howard. CHAS BOWIE Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Day Night Day Night
A young woman, identified only as "She" (Luisa Williams), arrives at a hotel room and prepares to commit a suicide bombing. Men in masks help her get ready, drilling her in the details of their plan—the bomb is to go off in Times Square. There's no explicit political agenda, or much dialogue at all, in fact—there's only nerve-wracking tension, the camera hovering anxiously near Williams' expressive face, and subtext that encompasses everything from the metaphysical to 9/11. It's an amazing accomplishment, to say so much with so little. ALISON HALLETT Hollywood Theatre.
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
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.
Spike Lee's Inside Man was the last masterful genre movie I saw, and while Fracture isn't quite as compelling, it does demonstrate how to turn an ordinary, John Grisham-y lawyer movie into a smart and gripping film. It doesn't hurt that it stars two of the best actors working in film today: the inimitable Anthony Hopkins (contrary to what Fracture's previews would have you believe, he's not playing Hannibal Lecter here), and Ryan Gosling, whose hotshot DA character is so far removed from his turn in Half Nelson as to make Gosling himself virtually invisible. CHAS BOWIE 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 Academy, Bagdad Theater, Laurelhurst, Mission Theater.
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 clever films to come along in years. ERIK HENRIKSEN Laurelhurst.
Hostel: Part II
More torture porn. Not screened for critics. Regal Cinemas, etc.
Taking its cues from ridiculous/awesome epics like 48 Hours, Point Break, and Bad Boys, Hot Fuzz is a pretty damn great action comedy from the brilliant guys who did Shaun of the Dead. ERIK HENRIKSEN Regal Cinemas, etc.
The latest comedy from Judd Apatow (Anchorman, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Freaks and Geeks), Knocked Up is—and there's really no other way to put this—fucking hilarious. Starring the great Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl as two singles who unexpectedly find themselves pregnant, I'd be shocked if a funnier or sweeter movie comes out this year. ERIK HENRIKSEN Regal Cinemas, etc.
The Lady Vanishes
We're gonna Hitchcock it up and down the block.Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
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.
See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
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.
On the surface, Earl Brooks (poor, sad, depressing Kevin Costner) is the perfect guy—a successful, Portland-dwelling businessman with a sort-of-hot wife and a cute college-age daughter. But Earl has also seen Fight Club too many times, so he's constantly fending off his hallucination/alter ego, Marshall (William Hurt), who keeps telling Earl to murder people, which Earl guiltily (and bloodily) does. Throw in a super-annoying douche who wants Earl to teach him how to kill (played by "comedian" Dane Cook, a real-life super-annoying douche) and a cop (Demi Moore) who's trying to find Earl, and you've got a misguided, scattered film that's neither scary nor interesting. Then again, it does have Hurt, who's always awesome, and Demi Moore, who, at age 97, is still hot. This probably makes me sound shallow, but whatever—like there's anything else to think about once you've grown bored with seeing Kevin Costner and Dane Cook drive past Wentworth Chevytown, looking for somebody to kill. Somebody who might be YOU! ERIK HENRIKSEN 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.
The NeverEnding Story
Grow up and get a job, Bastian. Camellia Lounge, Pix Patisserie (North).
See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
A 10-minute-long stop motion film. Screens with Trionyx, another short film. Hollywood Theatre.
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 Academy, Laurelhurst, St. Johns Theater & Pub, Valley Theater.
You've probably never thought you'd need to watch a sports movie about table tennis, but you'd be wrong, my friend. A Japanese film based on the popular comic of the same name by Taiyo Matsumoto, Ping Pong concerns a series of high school table tennis tournaments, centering on the relationship between the stoic Smile and his brash, heroic friend, Peco—both paddlers extraordinaire. In the quintessential Japanese manner, the film bounces between buddy movie, sports flick, and surreal mythical tale, which on paper sounds schmaltzy, but in practice is a delight. Stick through the slow-building beginning, and you won't be disappointed. COURTNEY FERGUSON Hollywood Theatre.
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.
Portland Underground Film Festival
See Film on pg. 49; for more info, hit clintonsttheater.com. Clinton St. Theater.
See review this issue. Living Room Theaters.
Rose Festival: From One Rose
"A cinematic journey through the life of a woman born at the turn of the century in Portland, Oregon, who grows up with the Rose Festival." For the sake of Rose Festival authenticity, the screening will include plenty of drunk Greshamites, who will likely be fighting with a good number of overpopulating Beavertonians over cotton candy, stuffed animals, spots on the filthy sidewalk for the Rose Parade, etc. Carnies may or may not be in attendance, depending on the weather. Clinton Street Theater, Laurelhurst.
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.
The Mercury's connisseur of children's cinema, seven-year-old Kayla, was unable to attend a screening of Surf's Up (largely because her father refused to drive her out to Tigard for the screening). The latest in a seemingly interminable line of kid-targeted movies about how goddamn cute penguins are, Kayla was still enthusiastic about Surf's Up's premise. "Nope!" she answered when asked if she was sick of stupid movies about how goddamn cute penguins are. "I like penguins!" Thus, we feel reasonably confident that had she been able to attend the screening, she would have heartily recommended this film. Because she likes penguins. Still. Hence the star. Regal Cinemas, etc.
Let's rock it Buñuel-style, yo! Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
This is a movie about pie: eating pie, serving pie, baking pie, talking about pie, and finding deep meaning in pie that pie doesn't really possess. Jenna (Keri Russell), a knocked-up waitress in an unspecified southern land, has just invented a new pie: It's called "I Don't Want Earl's Baby Pie," or, for short, "Bad Baby Pie." Jenna lives in fear of her violent, pathetic husband, Earl (Jeremy Sisto, whom I will never stop loving), and works in a diner owned by a senile Andy Griffith (wow, still alive!). Luckily, kinda, Jenna falls in love with her sweet OB/GYN, who is a little too into pie for my taste. ("What you do with food is unearthly. It's sensual.") Unfortch, the doc is saddled with a redheaded wife who loves him, and Jenna is saddled with Earl's stupid baby ("Little Baby Screamin' its Head off and Ruinin' My Life Pie"). Bummer. Writer, director, and co-star Adrienne Shelly (who, by the way, was freakishly murdered last year by a 19-year-old construction worker) shines in the film's quirky comedic angles, and fails dismally in the sentimental ones—the film's massive, saccharine slices of earnest goo (mostly about how babies are miracle cures for lonely women) are unbearable. LINDY WEST Regal Cinemas, etc.
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, Mission Theater.