* 16 Candles
Molly Ringwald, Jake Ryan, Long Duck Dong, and a pair of underpants give fabulous performances in this unlikely story of a small-breasted dork getting the attention of the hottest/nicest/richest guy in school. Laurelhurst

* American Splendor
As an examination of the self-loathing artist, American Splendor is arguably a better film than Adaptation, thanks to the auto-on-autobiographical nature of the material and the on-the-nose performances by Paul Giamatti and Hope Davis, combined with disarmingly deadpan voice-overs and interview interstitials with Harvey Pekar himself. (Shanon Gee) Hollywood Theatre

* Archived and New Short Films from the NW Film Center
Old Town Pizza provides some respite from the bustle of first Thursday with a program of shorts from the NW Film Center. Old Town Pizza

* Are You Alright?
TransWorld SKATEboarding's newest film featuring pro skateboarders Jesse Fitsch, Danny Way, Donny Barley, and more. Plus, a chance to win prizes and an opportunity to try out the new Tony Hawk Underground video game. Event is free although skate park fees apply for boarders. Dept. of Skateboarding

* Before Night Falls
The real-life story of Cuban writer Reynaldo Arenas, from his childhood in Cuba, to joining Fidel Castro's revolutionaries, to later being persecuted for homosexuality. A political film which centers on one man's loneliness. Fifth Avenue Cinemas

* Better Off Dead
John Cusack avoids creepy paper boy and skis the K-2 in this 1985 classic. Old Town Pizza

Billabong Odyssey
A team of world-class surfers travels the globe looking for monster waves (of the three-stories high variety) and for the most part are successful. There are shots of waves that demonstrate their incredible beauty and power, and there are also shots of the obligatory not-very-interesting surfers who yammer on incessantly about the "idea" of wave riding. And therein lies the problem with surf documentaries; though surfing itself has made startling advancements since the 1960s, surf movies have barely progressed past the narration-driven format of Endless Summer. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Fox Tower 10

* Breakfast at Tiffany's
Based on the book by Truman Capote, Audrey Hepburn plays Holly Golightly, and pretty much sets the standard for any actor who ever wanted to be tragic, whimsical, endearing and classy all at once. It's a love story that includes champagne and a lot of really great outfits. Umpqua Bank

* Broadcast
Local directors and filmmakers show their films and receive feedback. Call 236-2869 for info. See also, My, What a Busy Week pg 15 Newspace

Bubba Ho-tep
Elvis and JFK combine forces to kick some undead Egyptian ass. (Erik Henriksen) Cinemagic

Confusion of Genders
A man wrestles with love and sexuality in this dry French film. Lots of man on man. Oh man. Hollywood Theatre

Dirty Pretty Things
An African illegal immigrant works as a cab driver by day and a hotel desk clerk by night, despite his training as a doctor. When he does sleep, it's on the couch of a Turkish illegal immigrant (Tautou from Amelie). He soon discovers an illicit kidney-selling scheme that is praying on fellow immigrants. Frears' London is engaging in that it is a place where corruption is taken for granted, but unfortunately the plot resolves itself mechanically. (Andy Spletzer) Hollywood Theatre

Elephant See review this issue. Fox Tower 10

* Elf
It's no secret that Will Ferrell is one funny mo-fo, and yet up to this point in time his movie roles have been limited to comic relief sideshow. Elf begs the question: Can Ferrell carry a feature-length film, and can he do it wearing tights in every scene? The answer is yes, because Ferrell, for all his goofiness, has the uncanny ability to take himself utterly seriously. More than a comedian, he is a marvelous character actor, and gets his biggest laughs by not playing for laughs at all. Buddy Elf, played by Ferrell, is an orphaned human raised by Santa's elves, who is on a mission to find his real father in New York City, and will not be thwarted. (Justin Sanders) Regal Cinemas

Evil Alien Conquerors
Have you been spending your evenings wondering: What ever happened to the imminently talented Tori Spelling? Put your mind to rest. Local screenwriter Chris Matheson has rescued her career with a bit part in his satire--a story about bickering, imperialist space creatures hoping to wipe out the human race. Guild Theater

* First Aid for Choking
Seattle-based Megan Griffiths has more talent in her index finger than most Hollywood directors have in their entire entourage! Two years ago she was a Student Academy Award finalist. This year she busts out with her first feature film, a sorted (charming, frustrating, funny) story about a young woman in Moscow, Idaho (Giffiths' hometown) trying to shake off her white trash past by enrolling in beauty school. Hey, we all have dreams! Guild Theater

Director Nettie Wild gives voice and face time to the rampant drug problem in Vancouver (B.C., that is). A compelling look into how one city is trying to help out street addicts, and how politics really have no place in matters of human desperation. Guild Theater

* Four Days in September
The U.S. supports the Junta in Rio against the Brazilian people, while students take matters into their own hands and kidnap the U.S. Ambassador played by Alan Arkin. Based on a true story. PSU Smith Memorial Union Rm 225

* Girls Will Be Girls
Pitch-perfect camp isn't easy to do. But Girls Will Be Girls, written and directed by Richard Day, makes it look like it is. It's breezy, with a dark undertow and an easy comedic touch. The barbed bitchery is delivered by three drag queens. There's booze, pills, insurance fraud, drunk driving, abortion jokes, rape jokes, small-dick jokes, and a character asking off-handedly, "By the way, did you ever shit out that earring?" It's more disgusting than Divine eating shit. And funnier. (Nate Lippens) Cinema 21

* The Human Stain
Director Robert Benton spends most of the film relationship between a professor (Sir Anthony Hopkins, a Welshman playing a Jew who is actually an African American) and the last love of his life, a janitor played by a terribly thin Nicole Kidman. The janitor is attracted to the professor's prestige; the professor is attracted to the janitor's youth. They have hot sex and eventually fall in love. (Charles Mudede) Lloyd Mall, Pioneer Place Stadium 6

In the Cut
Mark Ruffalo sells out to Hollywood in this entirely unscary, unsexy, unthrilling movie about a detective, a crime witness, and their boring love affair. Also stars Meg Ryan. City Center 12, Koin Center, Lloyd Cinemas

This lightweight Spanish farce pretends to be about romance and destiny, but it's really about sex and money. Ah, but I'm making it sound better than it really is. Seven couples agree to meet face to face for the first time at Kilometer Zero, the central square of Madrid, and things go hilariously awry when the wrong people connect. Just to give you some idea: The young director goes to meet the actress, but instead heads off with the prostitute who was there to meet the businessman, who hooks up with a gay guardian angel. Halfway through, the movie threatens to become interesting when a woman cheats on her husband with a gigolo who might just be her long lost son. Then things get all dumb again. I cannot recommend this movie. (Andy Spletzer) Fox Tower 10

* Let America Laugh
David Cross stars in a documentary about David Cross. Screening is Free! See Destination Fun pg 13.

Los Zafiros
Like a VH-1 Behind the Music for a band you've never heard of, Los Zafiros chronicles Cuba's biggest doo-wop band (which existed around the time of the Missile Crisis) and their descent through the decades. Guild Theater

* Love Actually
Yes, it's frequently saccharine, and it's a Christmas movie, but it has an incredible cast. Any movie with Alan Rickman, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, and Laura Linney is going to have to work its ass off to suck. Love Actually doesn't even work its ass off. Several of its many love-themed story threads are genuinely moving, and several of its scenes are surprisingly hilarious. It may be writer/director Richard Curtis' (Notting Hill, Bridget Jones's Diary) cheesiest film yet, but it's also his funniest. The Mercury also heartily endorses any film--regardless of subject, content, or quality--that features Billy Bob Thornton as President of the USA. And this one does. (Justin Sanders) Regal Cinemas

The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam
Not all great-grandfathers would make good subjects for alluring documentaries. But Vancouver's Ann Marie Fleming's great-grandpappy was a talented Asian acrobat and magician. Her documentary about his life offers a peculiar look into the turn-of-the-century entertainment industry. Guild Theater

Matrix: Revolutions See review this issue. Regal Cinemas

My Life Without Me
My Life Without Me is about a poor, 23-year-old American mother who learns that she has three months to live and decides to conceal the fact from her family. Because her husband (Scott Speedman) and mother (Deborah Harry) either have little in the way of a basic education or are just plain daft, neither seems to recognize that she is dying, that cancer has speared and wasted all of her vital organs. During her demise, the young mother fucks another man, tapes birthday messages for her daughters, and sees her father, who is doing hard time for some crime. None of these elements ever rises to the condition of cinema; they are as dull, heavy, and uninspired as regular life. (Charles Mudede) Fox Tower 10

Mystic River
For all the "inexorability" and "meditation" of its violence, Mystic River feels desperately contrived. Whether director Clint Eastwood has some deep understanding of the nature of violence remains unclear. What is certain is that he knows how to make a movie, even a dumb one, well worth watching. I only wish someone would send him some better books. (Sean Nelson) Regal Cinemas

Pieces of April
The teen princess every guy wants to spear, Katie Holmes, stars in this comedy of errors about a choker-wearing girl on her own in NYC who invites her family for Christmas dinner. Fox Tower 10

School of Rock
While I am passionate about rocking, The School of Rock, starring Jack Black, employs every cliché imaginable, from Kindergarten Cop to Spinal Tap, while promoting a sickly Gen-X nostalgia and not being funny, to boot. If the film is about the generation gap and the power of rock to span the ages, it's unfortunate that its power stinks like a rotten corpse. (Julianne Shepherd) Regal Cinemas

* Shorts I
Showing Fast Forward by Melisa McGregor, Two by Nick Peterson, Fifty Fifty by Kevin Eastwood, Three by Nick Peterson, 49? by Eric Frith, A Man and His Pants by Christopher Tenzis, and Blender: Rotation Test 1-3 by Rob Tyler, and more. See Review, pg 37. Guild Theater

* Shorts II
Showing American Nutria by Matt McCormick, Les Nanas by Danielle Morgan, Eye for an Eye by David Rimmer, Ananda by Mike Smith, and more! See Review, pg 37. Guild Theater

* Shorts III
Crowfilm, by Edward Davee, celebrates the crow for 20 minutes while Afterthought by Michael Cross dissects a relationship for 20 minutes. Plus many more wonderful short films. See Review, pg 37. Guild Theater

* The Station Agent
Fin McBride (Peter Dinklage), The Station Agent's protagonist, was born a dwarf, and has built up a stone-faced resistance to the stares and slurs directed at him daily. When he inherits a small abandoned train station in rural New Jersey, he leaves the city and makes the shack his home. Within a day, the locals notice him and are banging on his door. Fox Tower 10

* Step into Liquid
Step into Liquid focuses on a myriad of obsessive wave-riders and what makes them tick. There's also an older group of fun-seekers tackling the two-foot waves of Lake Michigan, and a Texas trio who surf the wakes of oil tankers. However, cinematography makes or breaks a surf flick, and Liquid certainly delivers. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Laurelhurst

Still Life
For the past four years local filmmaker Jacob Pander has been quietly documenting and filming his dad, Henk Pander, as he completes one of his massive oil paintings. Guild Theater Swimming Pool

A mousy, frigid English woman (Sarah) who writes popular mysteries retreats to her publisher's mansion in the south of France. Then his illegitimate daughter Julie shows up unexpectedly, a slutty, bratty French vagina--I mean, character. The film follows the women as they eventually become friendly, and the uptight Brit mellows out with weed, swimming, and sex. (Marjorie Skinner) Laurelhurst

* Swoon
The 1992 film about two gay men who murdered a kid. The film covers the months leading up to the crime, the killing, and aftermath. Fifth Avenue Cinemas

Tackling as elusive and controversial a subject as Sylvia Plath is ambitious, which is probably why Christine Jeffs' film (starring Gwyneth Paltrow) works in fits and starts, sometimes opting for the burnished lens of Hollywood and forced poetic imagery. Paltrow affects the groomed, upper-middle-class accent her character requires, though imbues it with a labored sarcasm that stings more like The Royal Tenenbaums than Fulbright scholar. Sure, Plath's poems teeter with sharp wit, but Paltrow's wry delivery can't transcend Gwyneth Paltrow playing Sylvia Plath. (Julianne Shepherd) Koin Center

* Texas Chainsaw Massacre
It's obvious the filmmakers' intention was to maintain the feel of the original Chainsaw--that your're there with the characters, claustrophobic and terrified. It works, but this version's MO is just perpetual psychological bludgeoning and sadistic anticipation, a la Session 9, with elements of Blair Witch. (Julianne Shepherd) Regal Oak Grove 8 Theater, St. Johns Theater, Vancouver Plaza, Westgate

* TGR: High Life
An extreme and progressive skiing film to support Oregon High School Ski Racing, with a raffle, live music, and post-show party on Friday. Hollywood Theatre

The Naked Proof
An academic's logical proofing is upended by the appearance of a pregnant woman, who may or may not be imaginary, and who may or may not embody his fear of adulthood, commitment, and all the other troubling elements of manhood. Guild Theater

Older people tend to address this film in an alarmist tone, while the younger set thinks it's crappy. (Except for the excellent tight jeans, slit shirts, and hoop earrings.) It tackles a lot of very real issues about maturity, but it takes on too much at once, to no effect. The lead protagonist is a smart, well-behaved child--until the hottest, brassiest, most popular girl in school criticizes her socks. Then it's like she slipped on a banana peel and became the embodiment of parental paranoia: Drugs! Tongue piercings! Boys! Shoplifting! (Marjorie Skinner) Laurelhurst, St. Johns Pub

The Times of Harvey Milk
Harvey Milk is considered one of the most important (and probably least known) political figures of the 20th Century. The film about his life is equally notably (and obscure). Fresh Pot

* Trinh Minh-Ha Program
Cinema Project brings to PDX a series of experimental documentary films by Trinh Min-Ha, who through music composition, film, and writing, has tackled issues of feminism, cultural difference, and artistic convention. Min-Ha will be in attendance for Thursday night's screening. Cinema Project

* True Romance
Quentin Tarantino's classic film starring Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, and blood. See Destination Fun pg 13. Clinton Street Theater

* Whale Rider
Audiences at Toronto and Sundance loved this film and so will you if you like triumphant tales of charismatic youngsters who defy the stoic immobility of old-fashioned patriarchs. (Shannon Gee) Cinemagic, Laurelhurst, Mission Theater

* Winged Migration
Following geese, cranes, swans, puffins, penguins, pelicans, and gulls, the makers of the insect documentary Microcosmos spent four years capturing impossible images of birds, via a bevy of methods and a gaggle of cinematographers, for Winged Migration, a documentary that is as much about the wonders of flight as the migration of birds. Fox Tower 10, Milwaukie 3 Theater