After closing in the '70s and falling into disrepair, a renovated Academy Theater (7818 NE Stark) re-opens this Saturday. Originally opened in 1948, the Academy's been restored with '40s décor, three theaters, stadium seating, and Dolby sound. Following the successful business model of other local second-run theaters, admission is cheap ($3), there'll be pizza (from the Flying Pie Pizzeria), and (in the future, dependent upon an upcoming OLCC license) there'll also be beer and wine. After 5 pm, the theater's 21 and over, though there are family-friendly matinees on weekends (and on-site child care for evening shows). For more info, hit academytheaterpdx.com; for this week's films and showtimes, see Movie Times on pg. 57. (Erik Henriksen)
Bruce Willis plays drunky, washed up cop Jack Mosley, who's supposed to transport petty thief Eddie (Mos Def) 16 blocks to the courthouse. That short trip turns into a long one when the two figure out that Eddie is the target of dirty cops who want to stop him from testifying. Though I wouldn't dare spoil the surprises to come, let's just say Jack has to put down the bottle and call forth some of the old stuff. 16 Blocks hearkens back to the great, gritty crime dramas of the '70s, and director Richard Donner captures that sweaty claustrophobia in a tight-as-a-drum action flick that never disappoints. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Regal Cinemas, etc.
America: From Freedom to Fascism
Look out, Michael Moore—the libertarians are straight-up jocking your style. In his former life, Aaron Russo produced Hollywood films that entertained, like Trading Places. Now, he's set his sights on pimping the idea that the American government has become a fascist state. How? Through taxes and spy chips, of course! This film wasn't screened for critics, but if the trailer is any indication, the movie largely consists of anti-tax activists demanding to know what the constitutional basis is for income taxes. Not surprisingly, that isn't followed by questions of how we'd fund healthcare for the poor and elderly, or keep people from starving to death, without taxes. Then again, topics like "compassion" and "other people" have never overly concerned libertarians. (Scott Moore) Clinton Street Theater
After a storm on the coast of Florida, two best friends, Claire (Emma Roberts) and Hailey (JoJo), find a gorgeous mermaid, Aquamarine (Sara Paxton), trapped in a swimming pool. Squealing ensues, as does a dopey but cute attempt to prove to Aquamarine's father that love exists (to avoid her being forced into marriage with a "squid"... duh). Aside from the hurdles of concealing Aquamarine's true identity and evading this total bitch who's trying to ruin everything and isn't even pretty, even if she does have boobs, all three girls end up learning something pretty nifty about love. (Hint: it's all about BFFs.) (Marjorie Skinner) Regal Cinemas, etc.
"Fuck that shit! Pabst Blue Ribbon!" Clinton Street Theater
Bring It On
See My, What a Busy Week! on pg. 23. Clinton Street Theater
Caché hinges on the idea that just underneath society, and deep within the lives of normal people, all sorts of vile and unspeakable things lurk in wait. In fact, the film's almost too nuanced to be the thriller it purports to be—in addition to the marital drama, it touches on class, voyeurism, childrearing, and some pretty heavy race-related subtext. Nope, not a hardcore thriller. But totally worth watching all the same. (Alison Hallett) Fox Tower 10, Lake Twin Cinema, Moreland Theater
Crash, the directing debut of Million Dollar Baby screenwriter Paul Haggis, certainly doesn't want for hubris, but ultimately it's an exhibit of laudable ambition overwhelming Haggis' still-developing narrative abilities. Although Haggis' would-be epic portrayal of race relations in Los Angeles sports a handful of genuinely searing moments, it's hard to shake the sense of someone constantly rearranging 3 by 5 cards behind the scenes for maximum impact. (Andrew Wright) Bagdad Theater
Will Ferrell, Drew Barrymore, David Cross, and Jack Johnson provide voices for this animated adaptation of the classic children's books. This time around, The Man in the Yellow Hat may or may not do it with Curious George. Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing, Lloyd Mall, Hilltop, Cinema 99
In the pervasive TV ads, they're actually boasting that this spoof film comes from "two of the six writers of Scary Movie." Shockingly, it wasn't screened for critics—though it does star Buffy's delightful Alyson Hannigan. Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing, Hilltop, Cinema 99, Lloyd Mall
Dave Chappelle's Block Party
Block Party's unbelievable roster goes like this: Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Kanye West, Common, Erykah Badu, the Roots, Dead Prez, and Jill Scott. And then there're the Fugees, and then there's host Chappelle, who liberally scatters his comedy throughout, and then there's Ohio's Central State University Marching Band. Is the music fucking amazing? Of course it is; to call this some of the best music of the past decade seems, weirdly, like an understatement. And is the comedy great? What do you think, Sherlock? (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Every Man for Himself
Jean-Luc Godard's 1979 film with Isabelle Huppert, Jacques Dutronc, and Nathalie Baye. Whitsell Auditorium
Failure to Launch
See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
See My, What a Busy Week! on pg. 23. Holocene
See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre
The Hills Have Eyes
See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
I forbid you from watching actor/filmmaker Michael Goorjian's Illusion, a shameless piece of "spiritual," father-and-son reunion crap centered around a stroke-addled Kirk Douglas, whose mush-mouthed performance is not a touching last hurrah from a legend, but downright discomforting to watch. Fuck you, Illusion. You make me angry. (Justin Sanders) (As a side note, Illusion isn't even playing anymore—seems its run only lasted a few weeks, maybe because it sucks. But we had to run this short anyway; see Letters to the Editor, pg. 3.) Nowhere
Isabelle Huppert plays "a fragile, virginal young teenager who is unable to communicate her love and suffers for it." Whitsell Auditorium
See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
The legendary tag-team of Isabelle Huppert and Gerard Depardieu STRIKES! Can you handle it?! Whitsell Auditorium
The Love Parade
1929's The Love Parade is Ernst Lubitsch's first talking picture and good god is it misogynistic. But it's such a sweet film, such a happy, light, freewheeling 107 minutes that the heavy-handed, anti-feminist message (i.e. "gender roles are here for a reason") is overshadowed by old-fashioned Hollywood musical / Viennese operetta spirit. Lubitsch's regular hero, the Ewan McGregorish Maurice Chevalier, is an amorous playboy living it up in Paris when news of his scandalous exploits hits his homeland of Sylvania and he's sent back to the queen to answer for his misdeeds. Pussy whipping, ennui, and shrew taming ensues. (Adam Gnade) See also The Smiling Lieutenant and One Hour with You. Guild
Flaubert's novel—now with 100 percent more Isabelle Huppert! Guild
Madea's Family Reunion
Tyler Perry's creations—full of monstrous characters, plus-sized plots, and operatic gospel climaxes—are a genre unto themselves. Perry started out on the so-called "chitlin'" theater circuit, and his gun-toting grandma character, Madea, is a pure creature of the stage. Part drag queen, part sketch comic, and all Southern black rage, Madea has to be seen to be believed. This episode wasn't screened for the press—too many critics are ignorant white people, and all the reviews of Perry's last film (Diary of a Mad Black Woman) were just this side of hostile. (Annie Wagner) Century Eastport 16
New York Doll
In his thoroughly engaging New York Doll, documentarian Greg Whiteley paints a fittingly conflicted portrait of Arthur "Killer" Kane, the member of the New York Dolls who all but disappeared after the band's mid-'70s breakup. A loving, memorable, and touching portrait of yet another tragically dead Doll. (Zac Pennington) Hollywood Theatre
See review this issue. Cinema 21
One Hour with You
I spent last weekend in an intensive study of Ernst Lubitsch films. They are light, romantic, breezy things full of sexual innuendo, weird musical interludes, and the swaggering, grinning, love-happy Maurice Chevalier. One Hour with You (1932), though, was the only one that didn't do it for me. The typically over-the-top Chevalier is a Parisian doctor in love with his wife but chased by her randy best friend. The characters speak in rhymed couplets and break in spontaneous song, and Chevalier is great as always, but it doesn't have the dizzy grandiose and comic absurdity as, say, the previous year's The Smiling Lieutenant. (Adam Gnade) See also The Smiling Lieutenant and The Love Parade. Guild
Pitch Black starts out great, dropping you onto a planet by means of a rather exciting crash of a passenger ship (which, of course, is also transporting a dangerous criminal). We learn that the planet has three suns, so it's never dark. Ah, but an eclipse is coming, and the creatures that live underground, the ones that can't stand the light, will once again have free reign over the planet's surface, and will once again kill everything and everyone they find. The movie is actually pretty smart—until near the end, when the filmmakers lose track of just how much light upsets these creatures, and when a couple of characters go from being complex to just confused. Then again, those are minor flaws in a good genre picture. (Andy Spletzer) Laurelhurst
A "minimalist psychological drama" dealing with a Palestinian family whose conflicts echo the larger issues between Israel and Palestine. Not screened for critics. Fox Tower 10
The Real Dirt on Farmer John
The last in his line, "Farmer John" Peterson works the Illinois land that's been family-owned since the Depression. But he's not your average farmer: After his father died in the '60s, Farmer John came back from college with his hippie friends and turned the place into a commune. Now middle-aged, he's a real-deal, hardworking farmer, but still a freak, doing whatever the fuck he wants. Of course, his intolerant neighbors in the farm community want him GONE. And The Real Dirt on Farmer John details this epic struggle, and the fight when his business tanked in the '80s, but it also tells the story of American farming's slow death, and of determination, and how old values can actually jibe well with weirdness. Beautifully shot. Heartbreakingly sad. Funny as shit. A+. (Adam Gnade) Hollywood Theatre
Salo: 120 Days in Sodom
Pier Paolo Pasolini's 1975 film takes place in the Nazi-run Italian state of Salo in 1944, and follows the torture of several youths. Video Verite
The Shaggy Dog
For some reason, we had a really, really hard time finding a critic to attend the screening of this remake, starring Tim Allen. Following are some of the reactions to emails sent out asking if anyone would like to screen the film. —Ed. I'd rather clean Tim Allen's shit-speckled toilet with my lacerated feet than go see one of his films. (Adam Gnade) I'd rather go out in public wearing nothing but an already shat-in adult diaper than go see one of Allen's films. (Justin Sanders) I would rather regurgitate the contents of my stomach, let the Shaggy Dog lick it up, and then cut him open so I could lick up the contents of his stomach than watch Tim Allen in The Shaggy Dog. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) I'd rather lick Marshall the Puggle's balls while reading back issues of the Willamette Week than see a Tim Allen movie. (Chas Bowie) I'd rather chew a handful of razor blades and wash them down with a Hepatitis C milkshake than go see this. (Scott Moore) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Sita, a Girl from Jambu
This "narrative documentary" toggles between a live street theater performance and a more traditional film format to document a play that Nepalese girls perform in order to raise awareness of the kidnappings and servitude in brothels that young women often suffer. Short, predictable, and simplistic, Sita is a user-friendly theatrical explanation of a typical scenario in which a young girl from a small village is tricked into sexual slavery and with it, doom. It's compelling as an example of feminist activism removed from how it is ordinarily manifested in the United States, which is how it should be approached more so than as an hour's worth of entertainment. (Marjorie Skinner) Clinton Street Theater
The Smiling Lieutenant
In this Ernst Lubitsch classic from 1931, Viennese Lieutenant Maurice Chevalier is happily rambling through a friendly, sexy, easy-loving affair with wild, jazz-age violinist Claudette Colbert when he mistakenly flirts with the daughter of a visiting king. All hell breaks loose when the girl, and her father, take offense and bring in the lighthearted playboy. Chevalier decides to roll with it and sneak sweet rendezvous with (the incredibly HOT) Colbert while appeasing the (incredibly boring, charmless, and frumpy) princess. Big mistake. SPOILER: I loved this movie but he gets THE WRONG GIRL IN THE END. (Adam Gnade) See also The Love Parade and One Hour with You. Guild
Here's a chance to catch Billy Wilder's classic noir film on the big screen. Gloria Swanson is always a scream with her melodrama and tragic hyperventilating, and Erich von Stroheim is excellent as her patient butler. Clinton Street Theater
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
I hate to say this kind of thing in print, and I rarely do, so maybe you'll forgive me: The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada is the closest thing to a perfect movie you'll ever find. (Justin Sanders) Fox Tower 10, Cinetopia, Roseway Theatre, St. Johns Twin Cinema and Pub
Tony Jaa Double Feature
Hol-ee fuck. Tony Jaa is the fucking man, and this double feature—with Ong-Bak and Tom Yum Goong—shows off two of the most fun, badass martial arts flicks in recent memory. And it's free. Seriously. Your mind will be blown. You have to check this out, or you will never forgive yourself. Ever. (Erik Henriksen) Video Verite
Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
This comedy is about a real novel, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman—a 700-plus page behemoth written in the late 1700s, and supposedly the first post-modern novel. The film—which is actually about a bunch of people trying to film the "unfilmable" text—resembles, at times, an insider-y DVD behind-the-scenes extra: It has all the gossip, romance, and competition one would expect on a movie set. And it's awesome, every bit as farcical and naughty as the really old novel it's based on. (Amy Jenniges) Hollywood Theatre
Not screened for critics, this futuristic action flick stars genre go-to girl Milla Jovovich. The ads make it look like crap, but director Kurt Wimmer's last film—the direct to video Equilibrium, with Christian Bale—was a surprisingly solid sci-fi actioner. So yeah. We don't know. Milla is pretty, though. We know that. Regal Cinemas, etc.
The first part in a locally-produced, episodic "action/fantasy show" developed for the internet. Bagdad Theater
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10