Did you know that Cary Grant turned down the role of 007? Or that Jack Black played a no-good ruffian in The Neverending Story III? Congratulations--you're an insufferable film geek! Luckily, there's a place for you to show off all that useless knowledge--the IFC Channel's traveling movie trivia game, The Ultimate Film Fanatic Challenge. Show off yer obscure film knowledge this Thursday-Saturday at Ringler's Pub from 6-10 pm--you might snag some prizes, not to mention bragging rights for the next time you hit Videorama. Check out upcoming issues of the Mercury for more info on the challenge, which continues throughout the month.
22nd Annual Reel Music Festival
For info on Miles Electric: A Different Kind of Blue, Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues, Jandek on Corwood, and Fallen Angel: Gram Parsons, see "The Perfect Combination," page 34. For more info on any of the fest's films, hit www.nwfilm.org.
Be Here To Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt
A biography about the unheralded and underappreciated Townes Van Zandt, a songwriter whose name sounds kind of familiar to some people who might kind of know something about music. Guild Theater
David Hockney: The Colors of Music
Hockney's designed sets for a ton of operas and was lauded as an artist--yet now, due to a genetic condition, he's gone deaf. It must be hard to make sets for operas you can't hear. Hey--that's kind of like how Beethoven was a master of music, but then he went deaf. Or was that Mozart? Whatever. One of those guys went deaf, too, and Hockney's story is kind of like that. But with big painted backdrops instead of symphonies, or something. Whitsell Auditorium
* The Aviator
Seeing Oliver Stone's Alexander is enough to make anyone boycott sweeping three-hour biopics for life--but before you make that rash decision, consider the case of Martin Scorsese's The Aviator. Like Alexander, Scorsese's three-hour biopic of the late eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes is the tale of a prickly visionary whose own obsessions brought about his downfall. But unlike Alexander, The Aviator is engrossing, self-assured, well acted, and not a big pile of crap. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Beyond the Sea
Kevin Spacey dives even deeper into his cesspool of narcissism with Beyond the Sea, a postmodern, self-referential song and dance biopic/fantasy about Bobby Darin, a pop star that most people under the age of 50 only have a passing interest in. And after seeing the film--which Spacey not only stars in, but also co-wrote, directed, and produced--most will still only have a passing interest in Bobby Darin, which is not so good for a flick working overtime to magnify its subject's importance tenfold. (Michael Svoboda) Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing, Lloyd Cinemas
Bless Their Little Hearts
See review this issue. Shows with Charles Burnett's short When It Rains. PCC Cascade Campus
That crazy bastard Cary Grant meets up with some suspense and the smokin' Audrey Hepburn in Paris. Cafe Nola
Everything in Closer revolves around four characters (Natalie Portman, Jude Law, Julia Roberts, and Clive Owen) and their well- and ill-intentioned romantic and sexual experiences with each other. The film treats the oft-idealized concepts of love and romance as undeniably beautiful things that are just as undeniably filled with duplicity, anger, confusion, and pain. Closer's incestuously twisting, darkly fascinating narrative is rooted in the psychosexual drives of its characters, and it's all topped off with enough sadistic mindfucks and inevitable despair to satisfy even the staunchest emotional masochist. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Samuel L. Jackson benches his college basketball team 'cause they suck at book-learnin'. Watch for our review next week. Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing, Century Eastport 16
Not screened for critics, this film's press release insists that it's "a chilling tale of mounting psychological and supernatural terror" that follows a family as they move into a house that gets all evil when the sun goes down. Man, let's hope there's not a solar eclipse! Oh, wait... there's one now! Regal Cinemas, etc.
Dolls See review this issue. Clinton Street Theater
* Dr. Strangelove
Stanley Kubrick's 1964 doom n' gloom classic, about a crazy general, nuclear destruction, and Cold War drama. With George C. Scott and Peter Sellers. New print! Cinema 21
* Duck Soup
If you're one of those poor bastards who embarrasses yourself by insisting that the Marx Brothers are funnier than the Three Stooges, here's your chance to get all hoity-toity. All that said, it's still a damn funny movie... it's just no Three Stooges, is all. Cinema 21
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
This movie freaks my shit out. I had nightmares for years as a child because of that deformed, creepy-ass alien, and a year or so ago, I watched it again to see if I'd gotten over my E.T. phobia. No. I had not. And with good reason--Spielberg films the opening half-hour like a fucking horror movie, and that creature remains the single most fucked-up looking thing ever put on celluloid. I'm telling you--this is a horror film in disguise, and despite how everyone loves it so much and thinks E.T. is so goddamn cute, Spielberg's not fooling me. This shit is fucked up. (Erik Henriksen) Pix Patisserie
* End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones
Evenly tracing the feats and pratfalls of the Ramones' entire career with admirable honesty, End of the Century relies upon narrowly captured insights of the original foursome--miraculously filmed just prior to the untimely domino deaths of Joey, Dee Dee, and Johnny over the last four years. (Zac Pennington) Laurelhurst
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Fear and Trembling See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre
Finding Neverland--which follows James Barrie (Johnny Depp) as he whimsically cavorts around and gets inspired by some kids to write Peter Pan--is a pretty decent film. But its heavy-handed attempts to be Oscar worthy are so transparent that they prevent the film from ever becoming an entity in and of itself. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Flight of the Phoenix
Can a disparate group of plane crash survivors learn to work together and make their former plane rise from the desert sands like the mythical Egyptian bird from whence it takes his name? If you can't figure out the answer, then I have another question for you: Are you retarded? (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Regal Cinemas, etc.
The Future of Food
A documentary on the negative impacts of genetic engineering on food. The film's director, Deborah Koons Garcia, will be in attendance for a Q and A on the Thursday screening. Watch for our review next issue. Clinton Street Theater
A criticism of Mexico's Institutional Revolution Party, Herod's Law tells of an idealistic mayor (Damián Alcázar) who succumbs to corruption. It's stories like this that make you wish Mayor McCheese was a real person, because he'd make a great mayor and he'd never succumb to corruption. Also, he'd probably make a law that all cars had to be made out of Fillet-O-Fish sandwiches and use chocolate milkshakes for fuel instead of gasoline, which would both distance our economy from the dictates of Middle East petroleum magnates and make your morning commute delicious! Three cheers for Mayor McCheese! Whitsell Auditorium
* Hotel Rwanda See review this issue. Fox Tower 10
* The House of Flying Daggers
While director Yimou Zhang's Flying Daggers lacks the emotional and philosophical resonance of his Hero, it's still a solid entry into the wuxia genre. For all of its greater hopes and attempts--the film's exhaustingly, insecurely histrionic--Flying Daggers ends up being best at what it seems most self-conscious about being: a slam-bang kung fu movie. (Erik Henriksen) Fox Tower 10
Incident at Loch Ness
A mock documentary about the making of a fictional documentary gone awry. The film is cleverly constructed (though it's not nearly as quick and witty as it stuffily fancies itself to be), and after a long, uneventful start, Incident eventually evolves into something engaging. (Marjorie Skinner) Hollywood Theatre
Inside Iraq: The Untold Stories
Inside Iraq offers more than its share of stuff that you probably haven't seen. There's the post-Saddam pornography craze, the graffiti that reads "slow death for USA," the 13-hour-long lines for gas in the petroleum-rich nation, the devastation of a civilian bomb shelter hit by a bunker-buster. But for every revelation, there's 10 minutes of negligible footage. And despite Inside Iraq's focus on the aftermath of the U.S.'s actions, director Mike Shiley largely settles for documenting only the rosiest aspects of America's influence. (Erik Henriksen) Cinema 21, Laurelhurst
Commies invade America and drop a bomb on NYC in this 1952 film. Regrettably, this is not 1985's Invasion USA, in which Chuck Norris plays a recluse who leaves the sanctuary of the Everglades to kick some invadin' terrorists' asses. Chuck Norris rules. Old Town Pizza
Kinsey convincingly argues that its subject's unflinchingly technical attitude towards sex helped liberate the American people in a time of intense prudishness. Good point, but what's missing is any exploration of why Kinsey is the way he is. (Justin Sanders) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
To adapt a series of children's books like these--dark, dary, and witty--everything has to be firing on all cylinders--and it simply isn't. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Regal Cinemas, etc.
* The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
I guess I could do the stereotypical critic thing with Wes Anderson's latest, but instead, I'll just say this: I liked The Life Aquatic the most out of anything else I've seen this year--and maybe for even longer than that. Take that for what you will. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
* The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Holy shit! All three of the The Lord of the Rings films... in a row! The Fellowship of the Ring is presented in its theatrical cut, while The Two Towers and The Return of the King will be shown in their (far superior) extended edition DVD versions. That's a lot of Tolkien-inspired, Peter Jackson-approved action, crammed full of epic battles and hot elves and giant elephants and talkin' trees, and it's one of the best film trilogies of... well, like ever, and did we mention it's FREE? Kennedy School
Political ambition and subterfuge in the Congo. A film that's deservedly won accolades, but consult your African history notes ahead of time--or be prepared to be lost in the African outback. (Phil Busse) PSU Smith Memorial Union
Meet the Fockers
It's always a little depressing when a great cast is assembled around a piece of shit, and Fockers is no exception. While this isn't the worst movie ever, it definitely pales in comparison to its predecessor, feeling like something thrown together to cash in on both family holiday movie going and its predecessor's surprising popularity. (Michael Svoboda) Regal Cinemas, etc.
* The Motorcycle Diaries
A duo of medical school friends (Rodrigo de la Serna and Gael Garcia Bernal) ride, push, and carry their motorcycle across Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and Peru, generally achieving the kind of good times/bad times adventure balance that all great road trip stories thrive on. After traveling thousands of miles, it's made clear just who Bernal's playing: Ernesto Guevara. (Justin Sanders) Edgefield, Fox Tower 10, St. Johns Theater
NW Documentary Showcase
Graduates of 2004's NW Documentary workshops screen their work. Likely to contain a lot of old people talking and slow, Ken Burns-y pans over sort of interesting photographs. Hollywood Theatre
Pavement: The Slow Century & Cocaine Cowboys
The Slow Century is Lance Bangs' documentary about seminal indie rockers Pavement, while 1979's Cocaine Cowboys follows a band that also smuggles coke and occasionally runs into Andy Warhol. Meow Meow
Phantom of the Opera
Helmed by the Queer Eye of Cinema himself, Joel Schumacher, The Phantom of the Opera is best described as a cheesed-out '80s synth-pop air-guitar gothic romance novel mess of a movie--and if that's not hideous enough, it ends up feeling more like a musical version of Schumacher's abysmally rotten Batman & Robin. (Michael Svoboda) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Director Robert Bresson's classic film about a master pickpocket (Martin LaSalle) who haunts Paris. Guild Theater
* Poona the Fuckdog
See My, What A Busy Week!, page 15. Cinema 21
Rocky Horror Picture Show (18 and Over Only)
It's the bi-annual 18+ Rocky Horror. Be prepared, 'cause shit's gonna get crazy. Clinton Street Theater
Max (Jason Schwartzman) is a precocious 15-year-old who falls for his hottie-hot smarty-pants teacher (Olivia Williams). But she falls for a man, well, closer to her own age (Bill Murray). (Phil Busse) Laurelhurst
Marilyn Monroe's most boob-licious performance. Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing, City Center 12, Fox Tower 10
Some Like it Hot
Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon play two Chicago jazz musicians who witness a gang shooting and end up on the run from the mob. Disguised as women, they join an all-girl band and head down to sunny Florida to perform at a seaside resort. A very voluptuous Marilyn Monroe, who plays a shy and alcoholic singer, manages to do what she has always done best: look hot but unapproachable. One of the greatest comedies in the history of the free world. (Charles Mudede) Umpqua Bank
A slow-paced, meandering slice-of-life drama about a family (Téa Leoni, Adam Sandler, Paz Vega) in turmoil. While the film really isn't all that profound, enjoyment can be found in its subtleties. (Katie Shimer) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Ticket to Jerusalem
A sweet story about a man (Gassan Abbas) who travels through Palestine with his bulky movie projection equipment, bringing films to refugee children. Whitsell Auditorium
Too Late For Tears
When some stolen money unexpectedly ends up in their hands, upstanding citizens Jane and Alan Palmer (Lizabeth Scott and Arthur Kennedy) decide to hold onto it instead of going to the police. But then an asskicker (Dan Duryea) shows up lookin' for the dough. Cafe Nola
* Total Recall
Arnold on Mars! This is a motherfucking awesome movie, and anyone who tells you different deserves an asskicking of the hardest sort. Blind Onion
A frenzy of stylized electro-fun starring none other than Jeff Bridges. Hollywood Theatre
* Vera Drake
With women in a frenzy over the GOP's implied threat to yank our reproductive rights from under us, it's as good a time as any to revisit the wholesome, family value driven days of illegal abortions, yeah? (Marjorie Skinner) Laurelhurst
A Very Long Engagement
Directed by Amélie's Jean-Pierre Jeunet and starring Amélie's Audrey Tautou, which is pretty much all you need to know. Mathilde (Tautou) and Manech (Gaspard Ulliel) are those involved in the titular engagement, but when Manech goes missing in WWI, Mathilde won't shut up about how he's still alive, even as all her stereotypically quirky supporting players try to talk some sense into her. It's here where Engagement promises a bit more than it delivers--as Mathilde goes all Columbo to investigate Manech's fate, Jeunet opens up the plot to focus on other WWI soldiers and their tangentially related characters and travails during the war--almost all of which are more interesting than Mathilde's sweet but utterly predictable tale. (Erik Henriksen) Fox Tower 10
White Noise See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
Kicking off the 13th Portland Jewish Film Festival, Wondrous Oblivion is a "comic drama" about a Jewish community in 1960s London. 11-year-old David (Sam Smith) loves cricket, but he sucks at it--luckily, a cricket-lovin' Jamaican family moves in next door. But prejudice is rampant, and David's parents--who survived the Holocaust--are soon under pressure to end their son's cricket-centric relationships with the Jamaican immigrants. For more info on the Jewish Film Festival, hit www.nwfilm.org, or just wait until next week's Mercury. Whitsell Auditorium