24 Hours on Craigslist
Opens Fri Oct 21
Clinton St. Theater
24 Hours on Craigslist is structured around a series of interviews with self-selected, San Francisco-based Craigslist posters. Director Michael Ferris Gibson has compiled an exhaustive array of interviews, opening innocuously enough with folks selling household goods, then taking a turn for the hardcore as he explores how sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll intersect on the online bulletin board—in 24 hours, an Ethel Merman impersonator seeks a hard-rock backing band for his act, a flash mob is orchestrated, the proprietors of a porn site look for glasses-wearing models, and a bisexual woman seeks a man to father her child.
The interviews explore why people use Craigslist, and how they perceive it: Some treat it as an extension of newspaper classifieds, while others think of Craigslist as a beautiful, if freaky, community. Gibson also delves into the creepy underbelly of Craigslist, like when an ad for a "sex party" leads to the dim basement of an extremely sketchy guy with a bad ponytail. The biggest misstep made by filmmaker Gibson (other than the inclusion of some truly godawful music) is in devoting so much screen time to people selling strollers and boats; his documentary is at its most interesting when it explores how Craigslist functions as part of San Francisco's sexual counterculture. ALISON HALLETT
Opens Fri Oct 21
Ewan McGregor plays Sam, a psychiatrist whose patient, Henry (Ryan Gosling), plans to kill himself at midnight on his 21st birthday. Sam, therefore, finds himself in a race against time and insanity to save Henry—but the case becomes increasingly bizarre, dealing blows to Sam's own mental stability.
Much in the vein of films like Jacob's Ladder, The Sixth Sense, and Memento, Stay relies on creepy perceptual techniques and paranoid plot twists to lead the audience on a Mr. Toad's Wild Ride of psychological thrills. But like Bush clinging to the coattails of Nirvana and Soundgarden, it's come too late to the genre party. One problem is that the buildup rates fairly low on the scariness factor—aside from one's idle interest in puzzle solving, the tension in the film simply isn't strong enough to maintain an investment in the plot's mystery. By being middling even within its chosen genre, Stay is robbed of the impact it could have had if it had predated Fight Club, or Primal Fear, or... well, you get the idea. MARJORIE SKINNER
Portland International Short Short Film Festival
Fri Oct 21-Sat Oct 22
FRIDAY: Shorts Short Programs 1 and 2 (7 pm, 9:10 pm)—I know my attention span isn't really all that great. But I never thought I'd be outright bored watching films that are less than 10 minutes long. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of cool eye candy in the animated ones (like the trippy Dew Line), and some interesting social commentary (Michael Cross' Commercial)—but most of these are so uninspired that it's painful to even pay attention to them. And it really pisses me off that many of these shorts feel like marketing material for potential full-lengths—we came to watch short films, not previews! MIKE FILTZ
SATURDAY: Local Motion! Oregon-Made and Approved Shorts (7 pm) and Please Don't Bring the Kids Shorts (9:10 pm)—Yeah! What Mike said, but louder. Faring the worst is the local program, which boasts films that range from mediocre to flat-out embarrassing. Better is the adult-targeted program—if only because of Broadcast 23, a slick short about some poor bastard getting raped by Sasquatch, and Pornographic Apathetic, an impressively improvised, dialogue-driven satire of a porno. Aside from that, prepare yourself for pretentious bullshit, unfunny jokes, and animation done apparently by and for the 420 crowd. If PISS Fest's 62 offerings were whittled down to one program, there might be enough good here to justify attending—instead, there's a whole lot of crap spread over four programs and two nights. ERIK HENRIKSEN