This is one of those movies that shows the lives of its characters intersecting in the most brief and coincidental ways, à la Short Cuts. We have Matthew McConaughey as a hotshot lawyer, Clea DuVall as a housecleaner, John Turturro as a physics teacher, etc., and all of them employ different philosophies on life and fate. (Most of them are existentialists, however, because their lives suckshit.) For the first half of the film, everyone runs around contemplating the hands they've been dealt, and the script verges on sophomoric, but very endearing. Then, Alan Arkinshows up in the middle of the movie and kicks ass all over it. He plays a divorced middle manager for an insurance company, whose son is a junkie, and his view of fate is accordingly grim. But Alan Arkin is a great actor; he saves the film from its fate as yet another "arty," low-budge, postmodern interpretation of existentialism. Instead, 13 Conversations is charming and even sweet in its cynicism. (Julianne Shepherd)
In a world of destruction, a young anime boy is captured and subjected to military experiments. He gains psychic powers that he uses against the oppressive forces, but shit, he's out of control. Who can save, or rather destroy, Tokyo? You guessed it, a newly restored Akira.
* Austin Powers: Goldmember
There are two things that aren't funny in this movie, and they are Beyoncè Knowles as Foxxy Cleopatra, and Myers' newest villain from Holland, Goldmember. And the reason why they aren't funny is because people from Holland are never funny, and neither is Beyoncè Knowles. Another thing that isn't funny are all the jokes from the first two Austin Powers movies--which happily, are nowhere to be seen. Wait that's not true. The bad jokes are in the movie, but they've been improved upon to the point where they actually are funny. Especially the poop and pee jokes.
The Bicycle Thief
A heart crushing story about post-war Italy: After finally pulling a job out of the economic doom, a young man gets his bicycle stolen. And the job requires transportation! The relatively simple plot opens up a painful descent into greed, survival, and shame as the man struggles to feed his wife and adorable son. If this movie doesn't stun you, you have no soul.
Clint Eastwood's new joint (and no, I don't mean his hip) concerns an FBI profiler who has a heart attack and then takes revenge! Co-starring Jeff Daniels and Angelica Huston.
Improv Comedy, live and in person, and in little tiny Portland, can you believe it?
A documentary about the role of music in soldiers' lives, with interviews with soldiers from Cambodia, Lebanon, Rwanda, and Bosnia. As each reaccounts how a particular song--from Guns and Roses "Knocking on Heaven's Door" to Puccini's "Turandt"--shaped their feelings, each soldier also opens up about their fear, horror, and powerlessness.
A messy mish-mash of '50s paranoid propaganda films, but instead of the Commies, it's the Iraqi menace, get it? Spiders, Arachnids, Arac Attack. Ug!! The film rips off all the good elements of classic scare films such as Dawn of the Dead, Gremlins, and Them, and pieces them together with boring computer animation and insipid dialogue I wouldn't let my grandma write. So save your hard-earned unemployment check and wait until this one is on the UPN Saturday Matinee, that way you can fall asleep in the comfort of your own home. (Brian Brait)
The Emperor's New Clothes
It's 1828 and Napoleon's in trouble! He's got to get off the island of St. Helena! He escapes by trading places with a lookalike deckhand on a ship bound for France. But the ship may not make it. What's worse, everyone thinks the lookalike is the real emperor, and the lookalike digs it! Our hero is forced to carry on with the knowledge that an imposter is lying in his bed and wearing his little costumes.
* Forty Years of Classic Commercials
Even though Kobe won't be in these commercials, and they won't be hypercolor or feature the phrase "Vroom, Vroom" these classic commercials are still worth your while. See review this issue.
Full Frontal catalogues the difficulty of maintaining a monogamous relationship when you're a Hollywood starlet, boo hoo. It shows how fucked up and stupid actors are in regards to sex and love, because they're never 100 percent invested in either. The film jokes about how Julia Roberts falls in love with any old lighting guy that kisses her ass, which is true, but funny, and I guess we're supposed to be charmed that Hollywood can poke fun at itself, even though those rich dicks are really like that. On top of the Hollywood spoofing, director Soderbergh, makes a film within a film within a film, a gimmick that has no clear purpose, but is nonetheless entertaining. On the whole, Full Frontal is pretty good, but not great, and loses big points for no sex. (Katie Shimer)
Director Bui's first full-length film examines the American milieu during the waning period of the Vietnam War (as opposed to the waxing period that no one seems to remember). Despondent refugees struggle to situate themselves among the ruins of their past and future, and to defeat the mysterious "Green Dragon" who lurks in a nearby forest, drawing children into the ubiquitous night and swallowing them whole. Starring none other than Patrick Swayze at a stage of youthful tightness.
Hang on a second... this is aNOTHER Halloween film? That makes eight. Jamie Lee Curtis is in it, too, along with Busta Rhymes. The last one (Halloween H20) was garbage, as were the rest. So, the fact that this one deals with reality TV bodes what? Ill!
The Importance of Being Earnest
Rupert Everett looks terrible--his face appears to be sliding off his skull, and he's as neckless as a football player. And he should simply stop playing straight men, because he's the most unconvincing lover this side of Passions. Southerner Reese Witherspoon is far too California-girl to play an English lass, with her "I studied with the same voice coach as Gwyneth" accent. Even these quibbles aside, this new adaptation is revolting, too arch by half and with Everett and Colin Firth (who plays Jack Worthing as a kind of stuttering Hugh Grant-type) swallowing all of Oscar Wilde's best lines. You lose everything by method-acting Wilde; his charm lies in all the stagy absurdity of drawing-room social intercourse. Thank God for Judi Dench, steamrolling her way through a terrible situation. (Emily Hall)
K-19: The Widowmaker
This workable Cold War intrigue plot--a Soviet nuke-sub commander is forced to risk the lives of his men rather than seek help from Americans--is long to begin with, but the moral tensions of the story might have been enough to carry it through... if the film weren't completely submarined by the casting of Harrison Ford in the lead role. I mean, Liam Neeson as a Russian is bad enough. We've all seen Schindler's List. We all know Neeson can't do accents. He's a known quantity. But Ford's pitiful patois makes Neeson look like Meryl Streep. It's embarrassing on a Kevin Costner scale; on a Sofia Coppola in Godfather III scale. I mean, what the fuck? Did he think we wouldn't notice? Jesus, what a botch. (Sean Nelson)
The Last Kiss
Climb aboard this sprawling epic about the ups and downs of a group of friends and family spanning three generations! Watch them fall in and out of love! Marvel as they cling to their ideals of adolescent passion! And thrill as they deny the inexorable grip of infirmity! Pregnant women and those who suffer from heart conditions cautioned that this ride may cause drowsiness.
The good news: Crispin Glover is in the film, playing the Fagin-like head of a "group home" for racially diverse orphans; this means the filmmakers aren't completely callous morons. The bad news: the movie, which concerns a kid who climbs up on power lines to retrieve some magic Nikes that make him a pro basketball star, is every bit as mediocre and irresponsible as the trailer suggests. It's insulting to kids, indefensible to parents, and abominable to everyone else. At one point fairly early on, I stopped taking notes on the film and just started noting the corporate logos I saw on screen. Here's the list: Nike, Krispy Kreme, Staples, Gatorade, AT&T, TNT, NBC, Jansport, Minute Maid, Coke, Sprite, Sheraton, Crystal Geyser, Mars, Spalding, ESPN, Sharp, Rite Aid, Vicks, USA Today, Washington Mutual, Phat Farm, Scrabble, Yahoo, Independence Day (the movie). I may have missed a few... (Sean Nelson)
Lilo & Stitch
An animated film about a Hawaiian girl who adopts a dog who falls to earth near her island home (and who is really an alien genetic experiment). She embraces her new pet and teaches him "ohana"-the "Hawaiian concept of family." Good thing the dog wasn't a white tourist...
* Lovely and Amazing
This follow-up to the similarly graceful Walking and Talking is a shrewdly respectful character study of a fractured family of women trying to ride herd on their raging neuroses. Fantastic acting and sensitive writing underscore the simple DV directorial approach. (Sean Nelson)
Martin Lawrence Live: Rundteldat
Daaaamn GEENA! I'm making up words again! An' they gave me another concert movie! They so CRA-ZYY! You know I ain't making no MONEY without wavin' a gun or wearin' a big ol' prosthetic ASS! WHEN will they learn?!?!
Master of Disguise
A brief overview should demonstrate what a miserable, puny affair this Dana Carvey vehicle is. The men in a certain Italian-American family possess a genetic predisposition toward disguising themselves as other people (and turtles, and piles of poo). Their family name: "Disguisey." The imagination that went into developing this magical universe is truly astounding: the term for this mimetic talent, for example, is "energico," and it involves the use of a device called the "Disguising Ball of Knowledge." There is a running gag that dictates that whenever the villain tries to cackle, he farts. And to top it all off, somebody had the brilliant idea of putting a pedophilia joke in a kid's movie. I can't believe this didn't go straight to video. (Annie Wagner )
Men in Black II
Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith revisit their lucrative schtick (Jones' is being gravelly and severe; Smith's is ripping off everything Eddie Murphy ever did) in this multi-platform, fully cross-promotionalized sequel.
Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise team up for this well-made, futuristic thriller, based on a story by Phillip K. Dick, and featuring several special effects that are identical to ones used in Attack of the Clones. Report works best when Tom Cruise is actually running--he's a future crimes cop being set up to commit murder--and when the maddeningly glorious Samantha Morton is actually freaking out. Complex in good ways, simple in others, the film marks Spielberg's second attempt at allegorical Kubrick paean (check the allusions to Clockwork Orange) that ends with a cop-out. Still, a worthy effort, and much more intriguing than most sci-fi.
Adam Sandler is always cute and his gross physical humor is funny, but Mr. Deeds is bad. A cliche plot and a crappy remake to boot, Sandler seems to be doing it for the dough. John Turturro, however, is awesome and sort of makes up for the overall crappiness of the film, but then Winona goes and fucks it up by being the worst actress ever. Expect nothing and you might be slightly pleased, but don't expect any Billy Madison or (one of the best movies of all time, especially under the influence of marijuana) Happy Gilmore. Those days are gone. (Katie Shimer)
Former Portland animator Bill Plympton premieres his new, full length film about an evil Dr. Frubar who launches a tv the size of Oregon into space. His devious plan is to conquer the world through advertising. Sex, violence, and sci-fi spoofing ensue as a wayward daughter of an astronaut and five mutants (failed space lab experiments) try to outsmart the super-smart, super-evil Dr. Frubar.
My Wife is an Actress
Charlotte Gainsbourg plays a married actress who has a fling with Terence Stamp. Need I say more? I mean, how French do you want it?
Roberto Rosselini had balls, that's for sure. As the Nazis retreated, he took to the streets with non-professional actors and created this masterpiece about the love affair of two resistance leaders. The guerilla film-making mixes news reel-like footage with a touching bit of fiction.
Filmed in 1943 under the repressive paw of Mussolini, Luchino Visconti's film marks the beginning to the neo-realism movement. Adopting the novel The Postman Always Rings Twice to the poverty struck Po Valley of Italy, the setting gives a certain heft and proletariat rah-rah to the story about a handyman and a smoldering wife conspiring to murder her complacent husband.
A wide-reaching essay on stealing and being robbed.
* Read My Lips
A deaf girl and a con man team up, but why? See review this issue.
Reign of Fire
This is one useless movie. It's the year 2020, and instead of picking flowers and falling on their butt, a brood of flying dragons have burnt most of the human population to a bunch of crispy bits. Christian Bale (American Psycho) stars as a limey wuss who hides out in a castle along with a bunch of other limey wusses, until an AMERICAN comes along (McConaughey) and teaches them how to FIGHT. And that's pretty much it. The good points: The cinematography is okay, there are a couple of laughs, and McConaughey is built like a brick shithouse. The bad points: EVERYTHING ELSE. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
* Road to Perdition
Starring Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Jude Law--a ridiculously stellar ensemble--Road to Perdition tells a rather simple tale, and it tells it nearly perfectly. A hit man (Tom Hanks) sees his family slaughtered, save for his oldest son. Father and son hit the road to exact revenge. Perdition transcends every revenge film currently documented within my brain. Mendes, working once again with Conrad Hall, has fashioned a heartfelt, exquisite, and above all, patient revenge epic. (Bradley Steinbacher)
Rocky Horror Picture Show
Jesus Christ, can you just shut up? I'm trying to watch a fucking movie here! This is not the Life of Brian, people.
Rome wasn't all sodomy and murder, you know. There was corruption, too. Directed by Federico Fellini.
With his deft and delicate touch (sort of like a really good shoe shine itself), Italy's neo-realist director Vittorio De Sica tells the story of two poverty struck boys. The two street urchins dream about nothing else but owning a white horse. But their juvenile ambitions soon trip them up, and the detour they try to take towards their dream lands them in jail and soon their boyish innocence is shed for hard-boiled cynicism. A compassionate but melancholy film.
In M. Night Shyamalan's most recent masterpieces, his obsessions with Philadelphia and the presence of God shine through, making the movie not only a thriller, but also an interesting meditation on some deep stuff.
Spy Kids 2
Spy Kids 2 wasn't a bad movie. Really, it wasn't. And if you're an eight-year-old who dreams of being a spy--something I always wanted to be when I was eight--then it's the perfect movie for you. There are some mildly funny parts (involving nose picking or camel poop) and it's a highly predictable kids movie (which means zero brain energy needed). At least I didn't hate myself for going. And that's always a good thing.
Stuart Little 2
Stuart Little is a cute little cartoon mouse with Parkinson's... wait, didn't we use that joke already? Anyway, cats and CGI mice channel the voices of Nathan Lane, Michael J. Fox, and Steve Zahn in this further bastardization of classic childhood literature.
* Sunshine State
This cinematic soap opera of familial and neighborly drama centers around a small stretch of Florida coastline. Employing writer/director Sayles' benchmark standards for dialogue and acting, the film uses a tug of war over prime resort real estate to showcase prime human flaws and insecurities.
Ralph Bakshi created versions of Superman and Mighty Mouse, but did you know he also created Ropeman and Tornadoman? Take your kid to see this and find out what Diaperman looks like.
Like most 15-year-old boys who acquire Sigourney Weaver as their stepmom, Oscar wants to doink her. But for the sake of efficacy and realism, he's willing to consider his stepmom's friend Bebe Neuwirth as a fall-back.
* Video Slam
Show your own and watch four minute amateur videos made after May 15 of this year. Call 242-1047 to pre-register and ask questions. This week's heat is on bikes. Bike over to the Laurelhurst park and see it.
Vin Diesel and his thick-ass hot dog neck reunite with "director" Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious) for another insult to national intelligence. See review this issue.