ROLLERCOASTER (dir. Scott Smith)
This year's feature presentation in the NW Film and Video Festival touches on a happy subject--teen suicide! Whoo! Luckily, rollercoaster doesn't come off as just another maudlin ABC Afterschool Special.
After breaking into a deserted amusement park in Vancouver, B.C., five kids from a halfway house do what teens do best: get loaded, raise hell, and expose each other's darkest secrets in the harshest of ways. As the group commandeers the rides, their inner demons are slowly revealed, and the teens are forced to confront their own issues of abandonment, sexuality, and the masks they hide behind. Not a bad debut, especially in the overcooked genre of the "disaffected teen" flick. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
FANSOME THE LIZARD (dir. Evan Mather)
A cute little tale of heartbreak and adventure among the reptile classes, stylishly animated to a jumpin' beat. I loved it; however, I PREDICT THE DEATH OF CINEMA unless these indie filmmakers start holding their goddamn cameras still. C'mon, guys--tripods were only invented, like, 8000 years ago. Portland's techno-elite will be instantly gratified to learn they can download QuickTime digitizations of Evan Mather's bizarre short film work from his website, www.evanmather.com. MYKLE HANSEN
PENDEMONIUM (dir. Martin Friedman)
An erotic tour de force of barely restrained phallic symbolism, in which characters representing the mythic archetypes of the Greeks wrestle with the masculine cosmic principle encoded in the Perfect Lingam, incarnated as a nice fountain pen. This film is sure to fuel undergraduate film dissertations for years to come. MH
30 FRAMES A SECOND (dir. Rustin Thompson)
Unlike the recent slew of WTO protest documentaries, this one doesn't rely exclusively on scary footage of police shootings. Instead, 30 Frames A Second lets the facts speak for themselves, and is consequently convincingly sympathetic to WTO protestors.
In an initial scene, Rustin Thompson, the director and narrator, points out the hypocrisy among the protestors wearing Eddie Bauer and drinking Starbucks. This sets the tone of the whole film--a critical look at both the cause for being there, and the convention itself.
Thompson is a photojournalist who went to the meetings and protests not really knowing much about the WTO, but filmed both sides, the stiff proceedings from inside and the chaotic, revolutionary outside. He illustrates the contrast between the two worlds: how incredible it is that two groups of people working for such different objectives could exist at the same time in the same place. KATIA DUNN