We're midway through the 39th annual Portland International Film Festival, which seems to be happily coinciding with some real butt-ass weather. All the more reason to stay inside, vicariously traveling the world. Poor February—PIFF might be its only charm. And maybe it's my imagination, but there seem to be more films in this year's festival than ever, and while I always love a good game of PIFF scaraoke, here are a few of the ones I've particularly dug that are screening in the next week:
Klown Forever (Denmark), screens Fri Feb 19, 8:30 pm at Whitsell Auditorium & Tues Feb 23, 8:30 pm at Regal Fox Tower
Immature, middle aged BFFs Casper and Frank are reunited after the original Klown (which screened at PIFF five years ago). This time they're headed to Hollywood, where they get into a pantsload of raunchy, hilarious trouble in what's a silly, outrageous break from the Serious Films that rightfully dominate at PIFF. (Trailer NSFW!)
Klown Forever (2015) Red Band Trailer - Casper... by movielovofficial
Schneider vs. Bax (Netherlands), screens Fri Feb 19, 8:30 pm at World Trade Center & Mon Feb 22, 8:30 pm at Cinema 21
A weird, dark comedy about contract killers set against a seemingly tranquil, if creepy, vacation home in the country. The payoff of of this one comes in its very last, poignantly twisted scene. The teaser trailer here isn't very informative, but it is the only one with English subtitles the internet seems to know about, plus it has a nice view of the isolated house in question.
Evolution (France), screens Fri Feb 19, 11 pm at Cinema 21
Lucile HadžIhalilovic directs this gorgeously shot horror/sci-fi story of a young boy being raised on a mysterious island populated only by pale women and other boys his age. There are medical experiments in dripping, dark hospitals, strange communings with sea creatures, and some interesting reversals of gender roles.
The Thin Yellow Line (Mexico), screens Sat Feb 20, 8:30 pm at World Trade Center; Sun Feb 21, 7 pm at Regal Fox Tower; & Tues Feb 23, 8:30 pm at Cinema 21
The task of painting a center line down 200 kilometers of hot, mostly deserted road in Mexico becomes a journey for a rag-tag group of men at various dead ends in their lives. There are setbacks (a stolen truck, a rattlesnake), bonding moments (mostly involving shade and/or water), more than a few emotional breakthroughs, and a really sweet dog. Co-produced by Guillermo del Toro.
Coz Ov Moni 2: FOKN REVENGE (Ghana), screens Sat Feb 20, 11 pm at Cinema 21
Basically an extended music video for Ghana's biggest rap duo, FOKN Bois, who cheerfully tour the audience through a world of poverty and violence. In between kicking people's asses, begging for porridge, lifting weights, and inexplicably hanging out with vampires, they sing/rap/narrate the goings on. This is part two of a series (you don't need to have watched the first one to follow, though), earning it the title of "the world’s 2nd 1st Pidgin musical.”
Above and Below (Switzerland), screens Wed Feb 24, 8:30 pm at Whitsell Auditorium
There seems to be a rash of impressive, European-made documentaries (albeit with some ambiguous degree of off-camera manipulation) peering into some of America's darkest corners. In this case, I mean that literally: Nicolas Steiner’s subjects include three people living in the occasionally flood-prone tunnels underneath Las Vegas, a man living in an abandoned California-desert military bunker, and by contrast, a woman training for a mission to Mars in a beautiful, remote part of Utah. The human stories here are compelling; Steiner's poetic abilities as a filmmaker seal the deal that makes this one of the most impressive offerings in the PIFF lineup.
Dheepan (France), screens Thurs Feb 25, 5:45 at OMSI's Empirical Theater
Okay, technically I haven't seen this yet, but it won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, so who cares what I think (I think it looks painful and amazing). Definitely one of the bigger gets of the festival.