See I'm Staying Home on pg. 49. Regal Cinemas, etc
"Filmed by the first team of women video-journalists trained in Afghanistan," this documentary follows the effects of both the Taliban and the U.S. military on Afghani women. Plays with Mrs. Littlebones, a Haitian film that examines traditional health practices. Guild
All Dolled Up
A documentary on New York's '70s protopunk rockers the New York Dolls. Mission Theater
Despite his crippling, perpetual drunkenness, Willy (Billy Bob Thornton) possesses a strange gift: He can crack a mean safe. Every Christmas he and his fiery dwarf friend (Tony Cox, hilarious) team up as a Santa/elf team to work the papier-mâché North Pole in some generic department store, case the joint for a few days, then sneak in after hours and rob it. It's a ridiculous premise that feels almost like an afterthought as director Terry Zwigoff relentlessly mines the angst-riddled depths of his characters. (Justin Sanders) Laurelhurst
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
Possibly the best title for a porn movie that's not attached to a porn movie. Set in the early '70s during China's cultural revolution, Balzac tells the tale of two young men sent to a rural mining village to be purged of their Western-themed education. Life sucks until the boys steal a supply of forbidden Western literature (including Balzac) and use it to woo chicks. Hollywood Theatre
Based on Myla Goldberg's breakout novel, Bee Season follows a Jewish family whose dysfunction could only stem from the roots of intellectual overstimulation. It's also the most boring movie ever. (Justin Sanders) Fox Tower 10
British Television Advertising Awards
See review this issue. Whitsell Auditorium
A film, predictably enough, about Truman Capote, Capote follows the writer during the creation of In Cold Blood, the book that both made him a household name and distressed him so much that he never completed another work. Capote is a film that will reward you with its design and execution, if you're willing to suspend the temptation of hair-trigger judgments that may be provoked by its sometimes difficult complexity. I highly recommend you do so. (Evan James) Fox Tower 10
See review this issue. Cinema 21
The Dark Crystal
A whimsical film about freaky-ass Muppets and deformed midgets. Enjoy, fantasy nerds. Pix Patisserie
The Devotional Cinema of Nathaniel Dorsky
Try saying that five times fast. The latest presentation from Cinema Project features the "sublime and precise" work of Dorsky. More info: www.cinemaproject.org. Cinema Project @ New American Art Union
The Disco Dolls in Hot Skin (in 3D)
Sure, you've seen porn. But have you seen porn... in 3D!? Here's your chance, with 1977's Hot Skin, featuring the Disco Dolls and the legendary John Holmes. Also see The Lollipop Girls in Hard Candy on pg. 51. Clinton Street Theater
See review this issue. Pioneer Place Stadium 6
Get Rich or Die Tryin'
Remember how 50 Cent got shot nine times? So does his accountant. Jesus—for that matter, so does my grandmother. I mean, how could anyone possibly forget? Why else would I be writing a review of his big budget, unabashedly self-glorifying promotional film? But no amount of overexposure could stop Get Rich from making those nine bullet holes the central plot point of an entire movie—that and a completely unfathomable love story, some dabbling in "the game" (the concept, not the rapper), and a questionable sense of historical accuracy (apparently, crack hit New York sometime in the early '90s). Ironically, it's precisely his harder-than-thou façade that ultimately sinks Get Rich so profoundly; 50 couldn't possibly risk his ridiculous self-mythology with any touch of vulnerability—the only thing that really saved Marshall "Mom's Spaghetti" Mathers' similarly styled semi-biopic. It's the same reason that 50's one-note musical persona is so especially grating these days—even when dude's tender thuggin', he looks like he's about to kill something. (Zac Pennington) Movies on TV
The Goebbels Experiment
Rather than simply turn Nazi leaders into monsters (or try to overly humanize them), The Goebbels Experiment takes the simplest of approaches; presenting archival footage from pre-war Germany and Nazi home movies, accompanied with excerpts from Joseph Goebbels' letters and journals (read by Kenneth Branagh). In his correspondences, the Nazi Party's Propaganda Minister talks about his supportive wife, his adorable children, his doubts about his career, and his reviews of then-current cinema. It'd all be quite normal—if Goebbels hadn't been responsible for brainwashing the German population, vilifying Jews, and crafting the notion of Aryan Race supremacy. (Phil Busse) Clinton Street Theater
Good Night, and Good Luck
George Clooney's excellent film follows Edward R. Murrow as CBS airs his exposés on McCarthy's rampageous anti-communist crusade. As a director, Clooney continues to impress; here, with help from charged performances and gorgeous black-and-white cinematography, he utterly immerses the audience in the uncertain era of Murrow's exploits. But what's so powerful about Good Night isn't how authentically it depicts an antiquated era in responsible reportage—as outdated as Murrow's TV programs feel, the film is disconcertingly relevant when one considers the gap between what Murrow worked to make news into (smart, objective, and daring) and what it has become (the prosaic, sound-bite-centric CNN and the simplistic sermons of Fox News and Air America). (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
You'd think J.K. Rowling's fourth book would make for a hell of a movie—maybe even a worthy successor to last year's excellent, heartfelt, and otherworldly Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which was deftly crafted by Y Tu Mamá También auteur Alfonso Cuarón. So it's disappointing that the latest Potter feels less like Cuarón's effort and more like the overstuffed, lackluster films that director Chris Columbus kicked off the series with. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
How to Fix the World
In the late '20s, only one out of every 50 people at the edges of the Soviet Union knew how to read and write. This film shows the cognitive changes experienced by those people who were put into literacy programs. I know it sounds clichéd, but it really is amazing to see how much being able to read and write changes how we view the world. (Christine S. Blystone) Guild
The Ice Harvest
Harold Ramis' dark comedy/heist film/existential angst drama (starring John Cusack, Oliver Platt, and Billy Bob Thornton) The Ice Harvest tries to have it all ways. Comedy director Harold Ramis is out of his element—he's great when it comes to the script's dark humor, but when it comes to the plot's emotional elements, The Ice Harvest just feels meandering and inconsequential. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
In the Mix
Though I'm probably just as surprised as you are, I was actually really looking forward to In the Mix—an appropriately anonymous Usher vehicle that in preview looked at least a few steps above embarrassing. Here's the rundown: our man Ush plays Darrell, "the hottest DJ in town" who, through a series of improbable circumstances, ends up taking a bullet for a mob princess. Even less likely, Darrell is subsequently drafted by said mob princess' mob father (the appropriately typecast Chazz Palminteri) to play the girl's bodyguard. I know, right? But still, somehow the preview left me wanting just very slightly more. So you can imagine how bummed I was when they totally shit-canned the press screening—first, because it meant I wouldn't be seeing Usher's abs in sensual slow-mo; and second, because that meant the studio probably didn't want to give my blisteringly critical ass a chance to shit-talk it. (Zac Pennington) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Based on Portlander Anthony Swofford's experience in Desert Storm v. 1.0, director Sam Mendes' Gulf War flick is a highly worthy, if flawed, addition to the war film genre. (Chas Bowie) Regal Cinemas, etc.
During this new abortion of a movie, I was shocked at how many times a PG-13 film could use the word "pussy." In less exciting news, here's a brief synopsis: Chris (Ryan Reynolds) is a big pussy who, in high school, used to be fat. Now his job is to babysit a bitchy teen recording idol, and when the two of them are forced to spend Christmas with Chris's stupid mother, the once-fat pussy realizes that his old high school friend Samantha (Anna Faris) is the only girl he's ever loved. In even less exciting news, Just Friends main selling point is seeing Reynolds in a fat suit. (Chas Bowie) Regal Cinemas, etc
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Shane Black's (the writer of Lethal Weapon) violent and funny tip o' the hat to the pulp fiction genre. Unfortunately, the one talent Black lacks is subtlety. His writing is perhaps more clever and precocious than ever, and the acting by all involved—especially Robert Downey Jr.—is spot on. But there's not an ounce of heart underneath, and the film has the overriding feel of watching a very funny meth addict tweak out. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Fox Tower 10
The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo
It's a bit odd that the NW Film Center is showing The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo, as it's simply a PBS documentary made earlier this year. Regardless, if, like me, you enjoy the edutainment of PBS documentaries, this somewhat extravagant presentation of it won't matter. An excellent primer and refresher of Kahlo knowledge, the film covers comprehensively the Mexican painter's eccentricities, brutal illnesses and injuries, her art and attitudes toward it, her failed pregnancies, travels and (sometimes quite funny) observances on both American and French culture, and of course her frequently infidelity-riddled lifelong love affair with Diego Rivera. The story is augmented by a great deal of archival footage, photographs, and interviews, including of the artist's former students. It's an even-handed portrait of a fascinating historical figure—just what you'd expect out of a PBS documentary, though one I'm generally more accustomed to enjoying on a couch than in a theater. (Marjorie Skinner) Whitsell Auditorium
The Lollipop Girls in Hard Candy (in 3D)
Huh? 3D porn!? You'll feel like you're right there with John Holmes in 1977's Hard Candy, featuring the Lollipop Girls. Also see Disco Dolls in Hot Skin on pg. 50. Clinton Street Theater
In this documentary, Gladis (a poor Cuban woman) marries Erik (a German, well-off, Weird-Al-look-alike) and moves to his hometown of Hamburg. As their relationship begins to deteriorate from cultural differences, it becomes clear that her expectations of a better life aren't shaping up quite like she hoped. (Christine S. Blystone) Guild
A fantasy can be a lot of things, but dull shouldn't be one of them. (Andrew Wright) Laurelhurst
1956's Nightfall has one of those plots that's so standard it seems clichéd: A wrongly accused man with a dark past has to stay one step ahead of the law and the real criminals in order to prove his innocence. Along the way, he meets a beautiful woman who falls in love with him and believes in him enough to help him. Yeah, it sounds pretty typical—however, explaining it in those terms belies the positive aspects of the film: the smart script, the seedy Los Angeles sets, the tense atmosphere. Overall, all the good stuff that makes a decent noir. (Mike Filtz) Guild
One Mysterious Night
A P.I. (Chester Morris) gets falsely accused of diamond thievery (who hasn't that happened to?) and has to track down the real culprit. Guild
Paradise Now's mere premise—the story of two Palestinian men who have been selected for a suicide-bombing mission—raises both expectations and eyebrows by taking on an incredibly tense, controversial subject from a frightening perspective. Despite its merits, Paradise Now shockingly manages to keep the tension of its story subdued—what should be an intense thriller is permeated by a sense of calm. Nonetheless, the film is thought-provoking and relevant, and for those reasons alone, is imminently worthwhile. (Marjorie Skinner) Hollywood Theatre
Directed by Italian neorealist Michelangelo Antonioni, 1975's The Passenger is a brilliant, brooding film about alienation in modern society. Nicholson's character, David Locke, is in Africa, researching a guerilla element for a television documentary. In a fit of existential fancy, Locke assumes the identity of a dead gunrunner named Robertson; then, he and his unnamed companion (Maria Schneider) traverse across Europe, trying to make contact with Robertson's old associates. The film culminates in a breathtaking seven-minute-long single take, and we're left pondering the enigmatic answers to some very deep questions. (Mike Filtz) Hollywood Theatre
Pride & Prejudice
The umpteenth retelling of Pride & Prejudice remains faithful to the plot, if not entirely to the spirit, of Jane Austen's late 18th-century social satire. The real star here is, of course, Elizabeth (Keira Knightley), a woman so uncorrupted by her contemporaries' restrictive ideas of what a woman should be that she seems utterly familiar and modern. Yet this spirited, independent, and intelligent woman, like the author who penned her, is 200 years our senior. Director Joe Wright's greatest accomplishment may have been in showing why this old lady—or both of them, actually—are well worth a respectful visit. (Kip Berman) Regal Cinemas, etc.
The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio
Julianne Moore stars in this film about a mother who enters a jingle-writing contest to support her swarm of kids. Not screened for critics. Fox Tower 10
If you are ever going to see a musical—even if it's just to indulge in a post-ironic hipster mock-fest—you need to make it Chris Columbus' screen adaptation of Rent. If you already love musicals, and in particular, Rent, stop reading and get to the theater. With its exhilarating exploration of alternative lifestyles, AIDS, and general bohemia, no theatrical production has had more impact on the public consciousness than Rent. Period. And though its leather-clad tales of drugs and cross-dressing are not nearly as edgy as they once were (thanks in part to the influence of the show itself) and its faux-grunge rock ballads are pretty darn dated, Rent still possesses an undeniable vitality. (Justin Sanders) Regal Cinemas, etc.
A sweet and tender love story that eschews irony and sarcasm as well as treacly Hollywood sentimentality. (Chas Bowie) Fox Tower 10
The Squid and the Whale
An insightful, affecting, and darkly funny film that's rooted in the human element, in the simple recounting, with no judgments and no clichés, of a family falling apart. (Erik Henriksen) Fox Tower 10
Walk the Line
Everyone wants to know if Joaquin "It's Not a Harelip" Phoenix can pull off Johnny Cash. Physically, the resemblance is striking enough. Likewise, Phoenix's mannerisms are more than convincing. But when Phoenix opens his mouth, things get dicey. It's not that his accent is bad, and he's a credible drunk. What nags are the times his interpretation comes off as... well, sorta developmentally disabled. (Marjorie Skinner) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Yours, Mine & Ours
What the hell? You were seriously going to read a review for Yours, Mine & Ours? BUSTED! Nobody wants to see a review for Yours, Mine & Ours! I mean—look at it! It's got Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo in it! It's some crappy family comedy! It's directed by the guy who did the live-action Scooby-Doo! BUSTED! Regal Cinemas, etc.
Yukio Mishima's 1966 half-hour long film about a ritual suicide will be accompanied with a live soundtrack form Meyer Burns Bokros. Valentine's