FILM FESTIVALS can feel like digging for buried treasure in a minefield: Getting trapped in an hour-and-a-half timesuck is far likelier than finding a gem worth the risk. Here's a brief treasure map to make this year's Portland Underground Film Festival (PUFF) bearable.
For PUFF's sixth year, the Clinton Street Theater is hosting four days of screenings, many of them interesting, some very bad. Skip the insufferable "everyone's connected" festival opener The Corners and wait a couple of days for Saturday's The Shark Is Still Working, an in-depth examination of every aspect of the movie Jaws, from production to release. It's less a documentary, really, than a ridiculously extensive DVD special feature—which isn't a slight, necessarily, as long as you've been wondering what happened to any of the film's extras, or what the drummer from Anthrax thinks of the movie. (He likes it!)
Sunday is when shit starts getting real good. Automorphosis, a documentary on customized "art cars," is frequently jaw dropping. Hundreds of driver interviews and car profiles—look out for locals like Extremo the Clown (he of the Indian temple car with a working fountain)—form a compelling patchwork of outsider artistry. The other films of the night are pretty good, but they're completely eclipsed by The Taint, the most entertaining pile of irredeemable trash I've seen in a long time. Purporting to be a satire on misogyny, Taint is really just an excuse to bash actresses' heads in with rocks. (It also has ejaculating zombies and a humorous home-abortion scene.) I can't recommend this movie, per se, but I also can't stop thinking about it—so maybe someone else should see it, just to confirm for me that it's real.
Sorry there are no upcoming showtimes for Automorphosis, Bike Porn 4Play, PUFF: Buzzkill, PUFF: Every Other Day is Halloween, PUFF: Heart Garden, PUFF: Short Films Program, PUFF: The Corners, PUFF: The Shark Is Still Working, or PUFF: The Taint