Adorable, Delicious, Lucky Star, Servants' Entrance, Tess of the Storm Country
Have a thing for obscure 1930s actress Janet Gaynor? So does the Northwest Film Center. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
Babel tells not one but four stories, across three continents, with each hinged precipitously on each other, and each collapsing under the weight of language. There's the story of Richard and Susan (Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett), an American couple vacationing in Morocco, trying to reassemble their shattered marriage; there's the San Diego nanny (Adriana Barraza) who decides to bring her blonde-haired charges to a south-of-the-border wedding with her nephew Santiago (Gael García Bernal); in Japan, a deaf-mute teenager wrestles with her sexuality and the wreckage of her mother's suicide; and in a tiny Moroccan village, two young brothers are given a rifle to protect their flock of sheep, in what quickly escalates into a tense, international conflict. These stories swirl into one another in ways both expected and surprising, each one picking up intensity until they collide in emotionally violent climax. But while each strand of Babel's complex structure is uncommonly tense and gorgeous, director Alejandro González Iñárritu ultimately fits each one into a too-tidy conclusion. CHAS BOWIE Regal Cinemas, etc.
See review this issue. Century Eastport 16. Cinetopia. Division Street. Fox Tower 10. Stark Street Cinemas.
In the life, legacy, and death of Robert F. Kennedy, actor/director/son-of-Martin-Sheen Emilio Estevez has the ultimate American story right at his fingertips. Unfortunately, that's not the film Estevez made. Instead, we're presented with Bobby, a sprawling ensemble piece, obviously attempting to emulate multi-story films like Robert Altman's Short Cuts. Estevez, though, is no Altman, and none of the individual stories carry much weight. SCOTT MOORE Regal Cinemas, etc.
Cannes International Advertising Film Festival
C'mon, you know you love a good commercial. And so do the people of Cannes, apparently. The Cannes Lions Awards, the culmination of the International Advertising Festival, has honored those really, really good ads each June for the past 53 years, in every imaginable category. If you're a media student, or just a media lover, watching the winning ads is really enjoyable. They're way cooler than your average sitcom breaks, and much edgier, especially Red Bavaria, whose "60 Days on the Market" slogan plays out with a man watching his dog get hit by a car. So effed up! And awesome. ERIN LACOUR Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
A Christmas Story
Oh, c'mon, people. You can think of something better to do than watch this thing again, right? Right? C'mon. Think harder. Laurelhurst.
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 Regal Cinemas, etc.
Hey, tough guy! Think nothing could possibly make Denzel Washington more awesome? Well, how about the ability to TRAVEL through TIME? And how about the ability to travel through time while engaging in witty patter with hilarious Hebrew Adam Goldberg? And how about if he also has a HEART OF GOLD? Did I just kick your mind in the junk, or what? Déjà Vu, like any good time-travel movie—and perhaps more than any other time-travel movie—likes its science vague and preposterous. Why waste time with the details? "Worm hole!" somebody says. "Fold space!" explains another. "Send me back!" orders Denzel. Fuck yeah! Who invited science to the movies, anyway? LINDY WEST Regal Cinemas, etc.
Remember when Tim Burton made good movies? Pix Patisserie (North).
Fast Food Nation
Fez from That '70s Show reminds you that Happy Meals are bad for you. CHAS BOWIE Fox Tower 10. Laurelhurst. Mission Theatre & Pub.
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 Academy. Kennedy School. Kennedy School. Laurelhurst.
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 Regal Cinemas, etc.
Like Aronofsky's exceptional films Pi and Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain is astounding, strange, jarringly imaginative, and people will either love it or hate it. There's a loose story that ranges from 16th century Spain to an abstract, sci-fi future, one that follows variations on two characters (played by Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz) through 1,000 years. But here, themes and emotions are more important than plot: Obsession, love, and death are all paired with Aronofsky's abstract creepiness and his stunning, bizarre, and lush visuals. ERIK HENRIKSEN Regal Cinemas, etc.
See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
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 Hollywood Theatre.
Jean-Pierre Melville's 1967 film about a hitman. $5 gets you in, and also gets you some of Valentine's gourmet tapas. Valentine's.
Little Children, based on Tom Perrotta's excellent 2004 novel, is one of those rare movies that probably won't piss off fans of the book: It's well cast and largely faithful to the novel's narrative, and Todd Field's direction captures the suburban landscape with as much perceptiveness and irony as Perrotta's prose—making the film an astute, well-made exploration of suburban dreams and delusions. ALISON HALLETT Fox Tower 10.
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 Regal Cinemas, etc.
A "lo-fi, black and white, comically laid-back film" about a young slacker musician. Fox Tower
National Lampoon's Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj
Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj follows Taj Mahal Badalandabad, that wacky Indian dude from Van Wilder who's played by Kal Penn, who's better known as that wacky Indian dude from Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. Sure, Rise of Taj sounds pretty easy and predictable, right? Wrong! Because actually, it's a searing indictment of British colonialism! I know! Finally! ERIK HENRIKSEN Regal Cinemas, etc.
The Nativity Story
The most expensive yard-art tableau ever made. LINDY WEST Regal Cinemas, etc.
Of Wind and Waves: The Life of Woody Brown
"I don't drink, I don't smoke. I don't want anything to wreck this beautiful body," says 94-year-old surfing pioneer Woody Brown. And then, Wind and Waves treats us with a graphic display of what a century of seawater and wind will do to a person's physiology. (It's not pretty.) Anyway, the last third of the film is an unwelcome, voyeuristic peek into his family life, which is entirely uncomfortable. Actually, this hour-long documentary is probably only for surfing fans, or for people who like to look at living people who look like mummified cadavers—for anybody else, it's just weird. SCOTT MOORE Clinton Street Theater.
The Origin of AIDS
A documentary about the theory that AIDS resulted from a polio vaccination in the Congo in the late 1950s. Great date movie! Proper Eats Cafe.
Outer and Inner Space: Andy Warhol
If you've never seen any of Andy Warhol's films (reading about them doesn't count), it's time to get your cherry popped. It's one of those things like puking in the bathtub or having your car searched that everybody needs to experience at least once. So here's your chance, virgin: Outer and Inner Space shows Edie Sedgwick watching herself on TV and talking to someone off-screen. The Screen Tests are long-ass shots of Lou Reed, Susan Sontag, and John Cale doing a whole lot of nothing. Come on! You probably thought you'd never laugh about yakking in the tub, did you? But now it seems like the best time of your life. See where I'm going with this? CHAS BOWIE Cinema Project @ New American Art Union.
In this exploration of the queen's apparently heartless reaction during the week following Princess Diana's death in 1997, Mirren plays Her Royal Highness, Elizabeth II, with just enough respect without fawning the role to pieces. And she's surprisingly sexy. God save the queen! MATT DAVIS Regal Cinemas, etc.
The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause
Jesus goddamn Christ, it's another Tim Allen shitfest. And as if Tim Allen wasn't not bad enough, here he co-stars with that goddamn Martin Short. Here's how eagerly we're anticipating SC3: I would rather eat my own legs than watch those fucking coke-snuffles pie-wits in The Santa Clause 3. ADAM GNADE I would rather throw my puppy into a wood chipper than watch those washed-up old fucks in The Santa Clause 3. AMY JENNIGES I would rather punch myself in the vagina than see those dipshits suck each other off in The Santa Clause 3. CHRISTINE S. BLYSTONE I would rather have sex with Salma Hayek than watch the new Tim Allen movie. CHAS BOWIE Regal Cinemas, etc.
Not screened for press, Santa Smokes has an unsuccessful actor taking a role as Santa—a Santa who "steals, punches, and smokes his way through Manhattan." Bagdad Theatre & Pub.
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 Academy. Kennedy School. Laurelhurst. Mission Theatre & Pub. Valley Theater.
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 Laurelhurst.
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 Fox Tower 10.
Stranger Than Fiction
Will Ferrell. Not being funny. COURTNEY FERGUSON Regal Cinemas, etc.
Talk to Her & The Flower of My Secret
See Film, pg. 66. Cinema 21.
Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny
You can figure out who people are based on what music they like: If I say, "Oh, he likes AC/DC," you'd know exactly the type of dude I was talking about. Same deal with Garth Brooks, "Weird Al" Yankovic, They Might Be Giants, and Barry Manilow. And just like no one's going to argue with me if I posit "Only douchebags like Insane Clown Posse," it's also totally legit to say that by this point, we all know exactly the type of dude who loves Tenacious D, the mock-rock duo of Jack Black and Kyle Gass. I'm one of them, for better or worse, and so was each drunk/high/dumb 14-year-old that I watched Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny with, and of course they loved it, and I loved it too. ERIK HENRIKSEN Regal Cinemas, etc.
The latest from "legendary local director Sean Delgatto" (who, frankly, we've never heard of). The End follows "a stellar collision between two worlds," and "the end of our civilization and the beginning of a new one." Not screened for critics, but hey, it's free, and there's a Q&A with that legendary Delgatto afterwards. Clinton Street Theater.
See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
Women on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown & All About My Mother
See Film, pg. 66. Cinema 21.
Wrestling With Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner
Tony Kushner is most famous for his play Angels in America. He's also a relentless social activist, and one of the more charming and articulate left-wingers around. The documentary Wrestling With Angels explores Kushner's development as a playwright, telling the story through interviews (with Kushner, people he has worked with, and his close family and friends), and excerpts from his plays. Wrestling is a bit of a fluff piece—spending ample time on Kushner's personal life and development, and touching too-superficially on the man's methods and work—but it's nonetheless an interesting little film, sure to find favor with any fans of Kushner's work, or anyone who's looking for a charming new lefty role model. ALISON HALLETT Hollywood Theatre.