2005 British Advertising Awards
There's something about watching commercials for an hour and a half that just feels fundamentally fucked up to me—like my brain can't resist all that coercion. But advertising at its finest is undeniably an art form, and this program showcases the best of the best. There are loads of clever ads here, most funny (lots of sexy deodorant ads), some upsetting (extremely graphic public service announcements), some emo and cryptic (every car commercial made these days). Grab a Coke, spray on some Lynx deodorant, and settle in—sure, you're being manipulated, but isn't it fun? ALISON HALLETT
A documentary about the rise of the American hardcore punk rock movement between 1980 and 1986—and one that contains too much footage and too long of a running time for those requiring just a primer, yet not enough of either for the die-hard punk rock aficionado. LANCE CHESS
Three movies for the price of one! CHAS BOWIE
The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros
While light on the thrills, this coming-of-age story set in the slums of Manila has moments of unexpected sweetness. Following the death of his mother, Max, a 12-year-old effeminate homosexual boy, cares for his family of petty criminals by cooking their meals and cleaning their house. In a refreshing and rather unbelievable twist, Max's homosexuality is not considered unusual in a family of Filipino men. Max develops a puppy-dog crush on a handsome police officer, which eventually culminates in a crucial decision between his family and his attraction to the cop. COURTNEY FERGUSON
See review this issue.
Vincent Gallo stars as Billy Brown, an ex-con who kidnaps Layla (Christina Ricci) and forces her to pretend to be his wife in front of his parents. The scene where she tap dances in the bowling alley is one of the best images from any film in recent years. ANDY SPLETZER
There are very few certain things in this world. One of them is this: James Bond is awesome. Part caricature of male power fantasies and part... well, okay, that sums up James Bond pretty completely. But while clichéd, outdated chauvinism and manlier-than-thou bullshit doesn't quite work anymore for anyone else (witness Arnold Schwarzenegger's gradual neutering, or the flailing, desperate attempts by The Rock to revive the über-male hero template), it has always worked, and will likely continue to work, for James Bond. Casino Royale might be the whopping 21st Bond flick, but it's also, unexpectedly, one of the best. Rebooting Bond (Daniel Craig), the film updates and tweaks, but it nails the one thing that's important: what a badass James Bond is. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Deck the Halls
This offensive piece of smoldering crap is good for nothing except a litmus test for potential friends. Does your would-be buddy think gay panic is fucking hilarious? Find out when a naked Danny DeVito snuggles into a sleeping bag with a frozen Matthew Broderick! Does this person think it's really chuckle-worthy when two fathers inadvertently catcall their teenage daughters? How about when a bully sheriff bends over to reveal his ladies' thong underwear? How about when Kristin Chenowith debases herself in the role of yet another shrill, aging, busty ditz? Unless you're a bad person, Deck the Halls will make you want to strangle yourself with a string of Christmas lights and gouge out your own eyes with the hook end of a candy cane. ANNIE WAGNER
See review this issue.
Deliver Us From Evil
Amy Berg's blistering exposé about pedophilia in the Catholic Church. ANDREW WRIGHT
Martin Scorsese's made a bunch of important movies. Movies that changed things, that define American cinema: Taxi Driver. Raging Bull. The Last Temptation of Christ. Goodfellas. That sweet music video for Michael Jackson's "Bad." So even though it's pretty goddamn great, Scorsese's latest, The Departed—an intense take on the cop thriller genre—can't live up to the expectations his IMDB page inspires. But while The Departed is nothing revolutionary, it is one hell of a genre film—smart and forceful and fun. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Simply put: Driving Lessons is pretty much Harold and Maude, but without the fucking. Sure, it's a lazy comparison, but I feel okay about it, since Driving Lessons is a pretty lazy movie. ALISON HALLETT
Fast Food Nation
Fez from That '70s Show reminds you that Happy Meals are bad for you. CHAS BOWIE
Flags of Our Fathers
If you're as bored by the self-congratulatory backslapping of "the greatest generation"—those who lived and fought through World War II—as I am, you'll find Flags of Our Fathers a welcome relief... despite the overly dramatic title. Though Steven "How can we make this more manipulative?" Spielberg is the producer, Clint "I'm actually a very fine director" Eastwood is behind the wheel. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
For Your Consideration
Christopher Guest making a mockumentary about Hollywood is kind of like if I were to make a comedy about the restaurant I used to work at: Waitresses across America would love it, and everyone else would be hard pressed to give a shit. ALISON HALLETT
See review this issue.
fur: an imaginary portrait of diane arbus
See review this issue.
Take Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti, two of the best actors working today, and throw in a few interesting themes—science vs. magic, order vs. chaos, politics vs. love—and it'd seem like The Illusionist has everything going for it. But it doesn't. Writer/director Neil Burger doesn't know what to do with these two great actors, let alone how to handle what should have been a multi-layered drama. Five minutes in, one realizes that just about everything in The Illusionist, with the exception of Giamatti, feels like a cheap TV movie. ERIK HENRIKSEN
An Inconvenient Truth
An Inconvenient Truth is workmanlike and clumsy at times—but it's also hugely invigorating. Tracking Al Gore's global-warming lecture as he schleps his Apple laptop across the country and to China, it's a collection of scientific facts and correlations made urgent through human drama and low-tech slide-show magic. It should be required viewing for every American citizen. ANNIE WAGNER
IT (Independent Tuesdays)
Homemade film and video!
Jesus Camp falls into the category of films that I wanted to like more than I did. In some ways, it's a dream of a documentary: an intriguing, inflammatory idea combined with apparently unrestricted access. Unfortunately, filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady can't resist the temptation to turn the film into a polemic about how fundamentalists are taking over the country and ruining our government. (Well, yeah—no shit.) ALISON HALLETT
Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple
Thorough, harrowing, and very well done, Jonestown doesn't cut corners in its retelling of the history of Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple, the infamous cult that tragically ended with nearly 1,000 members of its community dead after drinking cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. For the many of us who were too young to remember (or have even been alive during) the events, we often associate the reference with the punch line "don't drink the Kool-Aid" and picture brainwashed drones sucking down poison with their eyes toward heaven. But what Jonestown reveals is a scenario much more disturbing, effectively and vividly demonstrating how so many reasonable people could be drawn into what they thought was a utopia—and how things slowly went very wrong. MARJORIE SKINNER
Le Petit Lieutenant
A hard-nosed French crime drama that follows a young police officer and his recovering alcoholic boss as they sleuth out Russian gangsters in Paris. While the crime-fighting gives the film its narrative arc, a number of well-drawn subplots weave what could be another boring crime flick into a surprisingly sensitive, heart-wrenching film, and one of the best French movies I've seen in some time. ALISON HALLETT
Let's Go to Prison
I really can't tell if I'm laughing with this preview, or at this preview, in which Will Arnett (Gob from Arrested Development goes to the slammer. (It would probably help if they screened the movie for critics, but no go.) On one hand, it looks like every painfully unfunny "comedy" of the past five years, but on the other hand, it was directed by Bob Odenkirk and written by Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant (Dangle and Travis from Reno 911!). So why doesn't it look funnier? CHAS BOWIE
The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines
A screening of TNT's TV movie about "a brilliant man with 22 academic degrees" (Noah Wyle) who seeks an ancient treasure! Directed by Jonathan Frakes, of Star Trek: The Next Generation fame! Screens as a benefit for the Oregon Food Bank. Now, discuss: Commander Riker's beard—pro or con?
An astute, well-made exploration of suburban dreams and delusions. ALISON HALLETT
Little Miss Sunshine
No, Little Miss Sunshine—a dark comedy about a family road tripping from New Mexico to California in a busted-up Volkswagen van, and a film that got a lot of people talking at Sundance—isn't quite deserving of all its ecstatic buzz. But yes, still: Once you get past all that impossible hype, Sunshine is still pretty great, with clever humor, a tone of whimsical melancholy, and great performances, especially from Steve Carell and Alan Arkin. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Sofia Coppola's rose-tinted Marie Antoinette is a story of teenage euphoria, a study of naiveté, and a tragedy of manners and history. And whether or not it's accurate, it has beauty, verve, and spirit. Too bad the second act is boring as hell, and too bad that talentless hag Kirsten Dunst is in it. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Over the Edge
Matt Dillon stars in this film from 1979 about a bunch of rebellious kids in a planned community. Following the screening, the art-punk sextet Drats!!! will play a 30-minute rock opera based on the film.
Jacques Tati's 1967 French comedy.
Christian Bale plays Alfred Borden, who, along with Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) aims to become the top illusionist in Victorian London. Christopher Nolan's film gets clunky at times, and it's overlong, but Nolan knows what he's doing, and by the final act, the film's immensely entertaining narrative tumbles, rather impressively, into place. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Running With Scissors
In his 2002 memoir Running with Scissors, Augusten Burroughs chronicled his wildly fucked-up childhood living in the home of his pillhead mother's shrink. Running is content to rest on its "Aren't these characters ka-razy?" premise, and director Ryan Murphy (Nip/Tuck) can't decide whether to play it for high drama, sheer slapstick, or as an extended music video for his AM Gold eight-track collection. CHAS BOWIE
The "definitive statement on the end of communism in Eastern Europe." Still not excited? Okay, try this: It's eight hours long.
The Science of Sleep
Unlike most of fall's big films, Michel Gondry's Science isn't one of Hollywood's prefabricated darlings. It's an excellent film, but on its own terms—it's clever, fresh, funny, rambling, and heartfelt. ERIK HENRIKSEN
The obvious advantage to John Cameron Mitchell's film is that many people will see it, and continue to talk about it, because of the sex. Frustrated by what he interpreted as a "lack of respect" toward sex in American cinema, Mitchell has filmed graphic, well-lit, actual sex scenes, but avoided creating pornography. But even at its warmest, Shortbus is oddly standoffish—just as its take on sex is to think about it too hard, paralyzing it from the waist down. MARJORIE SKINNER
Shut Up & Sing
When Dixie Chicks frontwoman Natalie Maines took the stage in London and told an audibly sympathetic audience that she was ashamed that Dubya was from the band's home state of Texas, even the most pessimistic liberal couldn't have anticipated the fallout. While directors Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck weren't there from the beginning of the controversy, they thoroughly document the aftermath, weaving their footage with existing film taken by the band's own camera crew. The most gripping elements of the film are not the obvious dramatic moments—such as Dallas police discussing death threats with the women prior to their return to Texas—but the confused way America's country sweethearts react to the wave of conservative criticism. Initially apologetic and bewildered, the Chicks' journey from meek-voiced penitents to defiant and articulate free-speech advocates is nothing short of inspiring. HANNAH LEVIN
Otto Preminger's psychedelic comedy screens as a benefit for the Oregon Food Bank.
Stealing America: Vote by Vote
A look at 2004's election, including interviews with "voters who experienced hardships." Narrated by Michael Richards.
Stranger Than Fiction
Will Ferrell. Not being funny. COURTNEY FERGUSON
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Considering that Anchorman is probaby the best movie Will Ferrell will ever make, comparing Talladega Nights to it is kind of unfair—but also inevitable. Ferrell's Ricky Bobby is a borderline retarded, all-American racer who drives a Wonder Bread-branded car and serves as a hero to mouth-breathing NASCAR fans everywhere. Until, that is, a nemesis shows up: the all-French racer Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen). Disappointingly, Ferrell just phones it in here—it's the film's two supporting characters who make Talladega so entertaining. Da Ali G Show's brilliant Cohen is hilarious as the crêpe-loving Girard, and he's shown up only by the great John C. Reilly, who giddily plays Ricky Bobby's dumb, loyal friend Cal. Whenever Reilly and Cohen are on screen, Talladega Nights is a blast—fast, goofy, unpredictable, and willing to go all-out for laughs. You know, sort of like Anchorman. ERIK HENRIKSEN
TENACIOUS D: THE PICK OF DESTINY
See review this issue.
Thanksgiving Kung Fu Marathon
See My, What a Busy Week! on pg. 19.
Uncovering the Things We Have Concealed
A selection of works from Lebanese video artist Akram Zaatari. Artist in attendance.
The US vs. John Lennon
The problem with The US vs. John Lennon is that there's hardly a movie here; it's more a portrait of Lennon's activist leanings. And it doesn't help that there's already a powerful documentary portrait of the best Beatle on video store shelves—it's called Imagine, and it's a much better film than this one. CHAS BOWIE
Oliver Stone! Michael Douglas! Not one but two Sheens! Hot stockbroker action!
Béla Tarr's "gothic exploration of the precarious boundaries between civilization and barbarism," as seen in a Hungarian village that's visited by a circus.