JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL
Festival runs through Thursday, April 17. All films screen at the Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium. More info at nwfilm.org.
A drama about two Brooklyn teachers who are preparing for arranged marriages.
THE CEMETERY CLUB
A documentary about "Israel's emotionally rugged, dwindling Holocaust generation."
Sometimes a story is so good that you will forgive some lazy filmmaking, and this is exactly the case with The Champagne Spy. This doc tells the story of an Israeli spy—a Jew—who went undercover in Cairo in the 1960s, impersonating an ex-Nazi so as to gain information about Egypt's plans to attack Israel. Seriously, read that sentence again! That's crazy! This documentary is by no means well-made—it looks exactly like you'd expect a low-budget doc about spies to look—but damn, does it tell a fascinating, tragic story, and there's a twist midway through that's so good I won't ruin it for you. ALISON HALLETT
THE FIRST BASKET
A look at "the little-known Jewish history of basketball."
Basically, Making Trouble is The Celluloid Closet 2, except instead of a documentary retrospective about the gays, it's about the Jews—Jewish comediennes, specifically. Wait. Is it even okay to say "the Jews"? I have no idea. It doesn't seem like it should be. But I heard it about 5,000 times in Making Trouble, so it's difficult to get out of my head. Also, Fyvush Finkel pronounces Holocaust as "Holocoast" on three separate occasions, as if it's a destination vacation. Which should not ever be funny, but sounds funny nevertheless. But it's not funny, I know. (It's a little funny.) KIALA KAZEBEE
An award-winning coming-of-age drama.
"Is that what you wanna do with your life? Suck down peppermint schnapps and try to call Morocco at two in the morning? That's senseless! But that's what happens, man." Fifth Avenue Cinema.
Evening with Matt McCormick
Local and beloved filmmaker Matt McCormick will discuss and present several of his recent shorts and music videos, including his latest, The Problem with Machines that Communicate, as well as music vidoes for the Shins, Sleater-Kinney, and YACHT, plus some interactive video performance art. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
About three-fourths of Boarding Gate is in English, and the rest in French and Chinese. The version I saw inexplicably lacked subtitles, so technically I can't pass final judgment. From what I understood, though, this film—about a woman who kills her former lover, then flees to Hong Kong—is flat and relentlessly ugly, full of banal degradation; the type of film that makes you feel vaguely dirty, and not in a fun way. Not sure subtitles would help with any of that. ALISON HALLETT Living Room Theaters.
See review. Cinema 21.
G.I. Joe Stop-Motion Film Festival
If you simply can't wait for next year's big-budget, live-action version of G.I. Joe, here's an evening of homemade shorts that take the action figures and... well, you can figure it out from there. Awards given for: Best Performance by Destro in a Supporting Role; Best Use of Chewbacca Without Totally Ruining the Film; and Best Use of Kung-Fu Grip in a Sex Scene. NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre.
"It is the sworn duty of all officers to try to escape. If they cannot escape, then it is their sworn duty to cause the enemy to use an inordinate number of troops to guard them, and their sworn duty to harass the enemy to the best of their ability." Laurelhurst.
A kick-ass elderly deaf couple decides that together they will undergo surgery to restore their hearing. These types of documentaries are usually either a total snore fest or unbelievably awesome. This one falls under the latter category. I laughed. I cried. I hurled. CHRISTINE S. BLYSTONE Hollywood Theatre.
See review. Various Theaters.
The Living End
Gregg Araki's 1992 drama, remastered. Living Room Theaters.
The little fat girl from Little Miss Sunshine went on a diet, and now they're trying to cram her once more into to the hearts of Americans. I saw Nim's Island so you don't have to. Close your heart and keep it closed. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
Since moving to the Northwest a decade ago, it's been hard to avoid hearing about "the salmon issue." But I have to confess—the plight of salmon isn't an issue that I'd paid much attention to, and for that I felt guilty. So I watched River Ways, hoping to figure out what all the fuss was about. Focusing on the Snake River dams in the Southeast corner of Washington, the film checks in with all of the stakeholders, from local farmers to fishermen, environmentalists to Native Americans (too bad you can't interview the salmon!). I certainly learned the basics of the issue—removing the dams would be great for the salmon, but hell for the farmers, who rely on the dammed river for irrigation and transportation of their crops—but the film did little to grab my attention. With a lack of narrative or solid narration, it's a hard-to-navigate series of self-interested stakeholders presenting their point of views in ways that only muddy the issue even further. AMY J. RUIZ Hollywood Theatre.
See My, What a Busy Week!. Backspace.
So technically, they're screening The Ruins—a movie about a bunch of tourists who get killed off by, uh, killer vines—for critics. That said, they're screening it at 10 pm on Thursday, April 3, a mere two hours before the film officially opens on Friday, April 4. So while we can't technically say "Not screened for critics," and while we can't technically imply that the studio's hiding it from critics because they know it's a piece of shit... well, draw your own conclusions. Hooray for Hollywood! Various Theaters.
The Russo-Japanese War: A Study in Extremes
From the inimitable Thomas Vaughan, the filmmaker who brought us such crowd-rousing favorites as Admiral George Dewey: A Monarch of the Seas and George Catlin: Painter, Preservationist, & Ethnologist comes The Russo-Japanese War: A Study in Extremes—a film that's reportedly a "military historian's delight"! Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Robert Altman's 1984 film in which Richard Nixon (Philip Baker Hall) is the sole character. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Shine A Light
See review. Various Theaters.
It is hard to write about Robert Altman's Short Cuts without spilling embarrassing details of my life: How my high school girlfriend and I drove 70 miles to see this movie in Baton Rouge; how many times, as a young Raymond Carver acolyte and Tom Waits wannabe (embarrassing, I told you), I cozied up to this VHS tape with a bong and a beer; and how every time I now see Huey Lewis or Julianne Moore, I think about their genitals, which I first glimpsed in Short Cuts. All of which is to say, the '90s were badass. So was Robert Altman. CHAS BOWIE Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
The Singing Revolution
A documentary about "Laulupidu," or "The Song Festival"—a 100-year-old Estonian tradition that helped Estonians keep hope alive during Soviet and Nazi occupations. Hollywood Theatre.