I can't fault 2046 for what it decidedly chooses not to be (i.e., "comprehensible"). Because even though it opts to go in some frustrating and vague directions, Wong Kar-Wai's latest film is—as has been pointed out by pretty much every critic on the planet—brilliant. Yet among all its impenetrable genius, I can't shake the feeling that 2046 could have been much more, if it wasn't so content to be what it is: gorgeous and superficial. (Erik Henriksen) Broadway Metroplex
tba: Alain Buffard: My Lunch with Anna
French choreographer Alain Buffard's extended interview with American choreographer Anna Halprin. Okay, has anybody ever heard of either Buffard or Halprin? Anybody? Anybody? Buffard will be in attendance for the screenings and will discuss his work afterward. Guild
The Aristocrats is about a joke, and the film's title is that joke's punchline. I know that sounds like a spoiler—and well, maybe it is, a little bit—but the punchline is hardly the point of The Aristocrats. So what exactly is the point of a 90-minute documentary about a joke in which the punchline doesn't really matter? Well, depending on your constitution, it's either an elaborate excuse for dozens of comedians to wax indulgently about infants being paw-fucked by the family dog, or a brilliantly left-handed examination of the very nature of humor itself. Either way, I nearly pissed myself with laughter—and I defy anyone with even the faintest appreciation for sophomoric humor not to do the same. (Zac Pennington) Fox Tower 10
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10
Two well-intentioned Canadian environmentalists follow a herd of caribou across Canada and Alaska to illustrate what would be lost if we begin drilling for oil in the National Wildlife Refuge. Unfortunately, there's nothing more boring than a well-intentioned Canadian. Despite the sincerity of the husband and wife filmmaking team, Being Caribou feels amateurish and flat, devoting far too much screen time to the narrators and not nearly enough to the caribou. Particularly in the wake of this summer's crop of stunning nature documentaries, Being Caribou is ultimately nothing more than a reminder that good intentions do not a good documentary make. (Alison Hallett) Clinton Street Theater
The Constant Gardener
A valiant adaptation of an utterly lame John LeCarre novel. I certainly don't fault great director Fernando Meirelles (City of God) for wanting to try his hand with a crossover thriller; I do, however, fault LeCarre for writing such a bland, paint-by-numbers plot—which features Ralph Fiennes as an ineffective diplomat investigating the death of his wife, Tessa (Rachel Weisz), via a shopping list of clichés: Mysterious black cars, anonymous death threats, and gripping dialogue such as "I suggest you quit all this snooping around and put Tessa's death behind you!" (Chas Bowie) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Not screened for critics, this film has high schoolers creating a joke about a serial killer named—you guessed it—"The Wolf." Then—you guessed it—people start dying. That'll teach them to... Cry Wolf! Featuring—you didn't guess this—Jon Bon Jovi! Regal Cinemas, etc.
A documentary about Tanzania's Lake Victoria, and how the lake's native stock was quickly wiped out after the introduction of the predatory fish the Nile perch. Darwin's Nightmare examines both the far-flung effects of this move as well as the ways that the perch have affected the daily lives of those living next to the lake. Guild
The Exorcism of Emily Rose
When I was a kid, I had terminal insomnia because of a fear of being possessed by the Devil. So while I should have been terrified of The Exorcism of Emily Rose, I wasn't—while the movie's ads would have you think it's a horror movie, Emily Rose is actually a manipulatively marketed courtroom drama, and one that ranks well below an episode of Law & Order. Oh, and if you don't believe that this movie is crap, simply examine the rating: A neutered PG-13. If anything deserves to be exorcised, it's supposedly scary movies bearing a kid-friendly rating. (Katie Shimer) Regal Cinemas, etc.
For 13 straight summers, Timothy Treadwell really did go up and camp out in Alaska's Grizzly Maze, home to thousands of burly, wild grizzly bears. At close range, Treadwell really did coo baby talk at these vicious, hungry creatures, and he really did stroke their fur with his bare hands. And in October of 2003, Treadwell and his girlfriend, Amie Huguenard, really were killed and eaten by a grizzly bear. For Grizzly Man, Werner Herzog dug into more than 100 hours of film footage that Treadwell shot while living among the bears—footage that is frequently hilarious, occasionally profound, and sometimes terrifying. (Justin Sanders) Fox Tower 10
Happily Ever After
A nuanced take on monogamy, fidelity, and loyalty, focusing on the triangle formed by the well-intentioned Vincent (writer/director Yvan Attal), his wife Gabrielle (the charming Charlotte Gainsbourg), and his beautiful mistress. Vincent struggles with his conscience, Gabrielle trips around smoking cigarettes without apparent guilt, and when Johnny Depp drops in to tempt her into cheating on her husband, they have steamy eye sex in a music store while listening to Radiohead's "Creep." This is a truly adult film, in the non-naked sense of the term: Smart and stylish, and easy to watch without resorting to easy answers or pat endings. (Alison Hallett) Hollywood Theatre
tba: How We Investigate: Portlanders Ponder Perception, Motion, and Procreation
A program of shorts—done in PowerPoint, animation, time lapse, and pretty much every other sort of medium—that comment upon "our weirdly transformative world." Guild
Jericho's Echo: Punk Rock in the Holy Land
See review this issue. Director Liz Nord will be in attendance for a Q & A after the screening. Liberty Hall
A classic tale of a city mouse going country. There's a lot of drama goin' on in Junebug, and the film hinges on the ability of its actors to convey a remarkable range of emotion with a relatively taciturn script. But while the script isn't anything special, the cast's compelling acting results in a modest, thoughtful film that quietly exceeds the low standards it sets for itself. (Alison Hallett) Broadway Metroplex
Just Like Heaven
See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
Kings and Queen
See review this issue. Cinema 21
An erotic film with no nudity, and a movie that's more a premise than a complete work. Chimo (Mohammed Khouas) is the sensitive, wistful guy, and into his depressing Arab slum comes Lila (Vahina Giocante), an angelic beauty with an amazing ability to talk as dirty as a pornstar without sounding obscene. This, unfortunately, is the entire premise of the movie, and for most of the film, we are left, like Chimo, wanting to screw Lila's brains out—but not knowing if she's a) the coolest chick in the world, b) an annoying cocktease, or c) a sublimated psychopath. (Chas Bowie) Cinema 21
Lord of War
See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
If the prospect of watching Samuel L. Jackson and Eugene Levy in a buddy/action comedy is appealing to you, go see The Man immediately! You will undoubtedly be doubling over at the film's inventive fart jokes, and you'll surely cry with joy when Levy, playing a diminutive dental supplies salesman who's embroiled in a dangerous police investigation, slaps Jackson, a hardened Detroit cop, and calls him his bitch. However, it is Mr. Jackson who needs to have a similar interaction with his agent, as watching his commanding screen (and scream) presence go to waste on this end-of-summer stinker is the equivalent of gilding a turd. (Kip Berman) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Mardi Gras: Made in China
Sure—drinking, throwing beads, and seeing boobies is all fun and games at Mardi Gras! But did you ever think of the sweatshops where those beads are made? No. Of course you haven't... and we can't blame you! Who wants to think about that stuff when there's booze to drink, beads to throw, and boobies to see? Guild
The Memory of a Killer
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10
My Big Fat Independent Movie
Sigh. You know those stupid comedies—they usually feature either Leslie Nielsen or some Wayans brothers—that're nothing but a series of parodies of other, more successful movies? Well, this is one of those, albeit lacking either Nielsen or a Wayans. Instead of spoofing scary movies or teen movies or whatever, this one parodies the megahits of arthouse cinema: Pulp Fiction, Swingers, El Mariachi, Amelie, et al. It's filled with "jokes" both obvious and obscure, but it thinks it's a lot funnier than it is (which is to say, it's not funny at all). Imagine the most obsessive, annoying, and self-satisfied video store clerk talking to you nonstop for two hours, and you'll have a good idea what this is like. (Also, the film's big money shot is a cameo by a loudly screaming Pauly Shore. There's also a labored voiceover role for Jason Mewes, and a thoroughly depressing appearance by Mr. Show's Bob Odenkirk, who—unlike Shore—could do a lot better.) (Erik Henriksen) Clinton Street Theater
One False Move
Pre-fame Billy Bob Thornton co-wrote and stars in this tense, smart, and violent suspense film. Swaddled in Southern neo-Gothic atmosphere and sexual tension, One False Move is the kind of out-of-nowhere gem that makes critics and audiences yearn for a world where independent movies could reach mainstream audiences as easily as studio products. (Sean Nelson) PSU Smith Memorial Student Union
Out of Sight
Steven Soderbergh's smooth, cool, smart, and criminally underrated adaptation of Elmore Leonard's novel, starring George Clooney and a pre-J.Lo Jennifer Lopez. Fuck, this movie's awesome. (Erik Henriksen) PSU Smith Memorial Student Union
Phantom Hillbilly Birthday Bash
The good ol' Phantom Hillbilly is turning an unspecified age today and wants to celebrate with a free screening of his hilarious collection of video shorts, plus a "special guest standup comedian" and some groovy tuneage from DJ James Doose. Rumor has it the Hillbilly will also release a new FEATURE film—though even if he doesn't, you're still guaranteed a good time by, well, people who guarantee such things. (Justin Sanders) Acme
Portland Solid Gold!
A hilariously titled program of music videos from local musicians and filmmakers, including Cat Solen's video for Bright Eyes' "At the Bottom of Everything," Matt McCormick and Greg Brown's video for the Shins' "Past and Pending," E*Rock's "Ratatat's Cherry," and McCormick's video for Sleater Kinney's "Jumpers." Whitsell Auditorium
Prem Rawat at the United Nations' 60th Anniversary
Spiritual guru Prem Rawat's speech from the U.N.'s 60th Anniversary. The Clinton Street's press release for this event notes that this is "A MUST SEE FOR ALL OF HUMANITY!" Okay, okay. We'll go. Jesus. Clinton Street Theater
A considerably sharper than average exploration into the darkest crevices of education. Evan Rachel Wood stars as the shockingly amoral, sexy, and manipulative Kimberly Joyce, an attendee of a posh Beverly Hills private school who's intent on becoming a famous actress. Her world is a cold, creepy one, complete with a blustery racist dad (James Woods), a teacher with pedophilic leanings (Ron Livingston), and a best friend with more desirable physical attributes (Elisabeth Harnois). Kimberly decides the best way to achieve fame (among her other, more diabolical needs) is to frame her teacher for sexual harassment. As it turns out, this scheme is only the tip of Kimberly's true and inherently more evil master plan. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Fox Tower 10
It's Edward Norton vs. Richard Gere in a FIGHT TO THE DEATH! (A tremendously schlocky and lame mystery/thriller sort of fight to the death, that is.) PSU Smith Memorial Student Union
Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus
Enlisting the smart, chatty alt-Florida musician Jim White as his guide, British filmmaker Andrew Douglas visits the Deep South's prisons, swamps, juke joints, and chicken fried steak restaurants that double as houses of worship. The movie is peppered with musical performances by White and other songwriters who draw inspiration from the region; while the music provides one of the year's best soundtracks, the film's showcasing of these musicians in "natural" settings, like barbershops and junkyards, jar the film out of its documentary premise, making it feel more like a succession of music videos. (Chas Bowie) Hollywood Theatre
TBA: Sung Hwan Kim & Nina Yuen: An Imaginary Relationship with Ourselves
Sun Hwan Kim and Nina Yuen present "humorous, bizarre, and sometimes troubling vignettes" that "address the complexities of identity and biography, and question our notions of truth and fiction." Phew. Guild
An unnecessary sequel to an unnecessary original. Jason Statham returns as Frank Martin, the well dressed gun-for-hire who likes to drive fast and snap limbs. His car is a black Audi, his enemies are Eurotrash bent on poisoning government officials, and his means are both overblown and ridiculous—so much so that it had the audience I watched it with (all eight of them) buckled over in laughter. If you loved the first film you're sure to love this one. On a related note, if you loved the first film there's something wrong with you. (Bradley Steinbacher) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Beekeeper Peter Fonda tries to keep his family together despite threats of thugs and his son's spotty past. PSU Smith Memorial Student Union
An Unfinished Life
Lasse Hallström's An Unfinished Life is, in many ways, a return to old-fashioned cinema—in which the men are brave, wise, and strong; the women are desperate, determined, and beautiful; and everyone's pain is easy to relate to. There are no plot twists, and the story's events are predictable from the film's opening. The victims of domestic abuse, Jean (Jennifer Lopez) and her daughter Griff (Becca Gardner) flee to Wyoming, where they're grudgingly sheltered by the father of Jean's dead husband, Einar (Robert Redford), who blames Jean for his son's accidental death. The film plays to everybody's strengths, and while Life is certainly formulaic, there's a worthy comfort in its familiarity, that "It'll be okay" pat on the head that serves as cinematic solace. (Marjorie Skinner) Regal Cinemas, etc.
A Union Man: The Life and Work of Julius Margolin
A documentary about 89-year-old Julius Margolin, a "living legend in the New York City labor movement" and an active musician. Margolin will be in attendance for the screening, and will perform music after the film. Clinton Street Theater
A Louisiana gas station attendant mistakenly opens a suitcase chock full o' voodoo snakes, only to be reborn as an evil peckerwood corpse with a penchant for crowbars. Many WB favorites get mulched. Not to discount the awesome idea of a tow-truck-drivin' zombie, but this Kevin Williamson-produced flick otherwise goes strictly by the established pseudo-slasher numbers. To be charitable, director Jim Gillespie (I Know What You Did Last Summer) does know this turf well, and manages to squeeze in some genuinely nice Bayou atmosphere between the expected truckloads of false scares, semi-revealing tank tops, and god-awful nü metal. That, plus the scene where Bijou Phillips gets menaced by a sandblaster, may well be enough for those in search of air conditioning. (Andrew Wright) Century Eastport 16
Vitalitronics: Operation Treble Hook
A Portland-made "spy comedy" about an FBI trainee who's assigned to track down a rogue agent... and falls in love with him. Also featuring ninja assassins, rabid dwarves, and "authentic fart noises." Hollywood Theatre