Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas It'd be hard to recommend any of this week's film events more than Terry Gilliam's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, featuring Johnny Depp as Hunter S. Thompson (and a cameo by Thompson himself). The film plays all week, but Friday night boasts a few speakers, clips from a BBC documentary, and plenty of Thompson's favorite whiskey, Wild Turkey. The night should be a fitting memorial for one of America's greatest writers--and it's a kickass movie, too boot. RIP, Hunter. (Erik Henriksen) Clinton Street Theater
20 Million Miles to Earth 1957's sci-fi film about an alien who crashes on Earth--and, due to the atmosphere, begins growing to enormous size! Featuring stop-motion animation by Ray Harryhausen. Laurelhurst
28 Days Later A film that succeeds in defining the very condition of its moment is nothing less than a major event. In this case, 28 Days Later gets to the heart of SARS. True, SARS came about after 28 Days Later was made (2002), but the environment that made the disease all the rage for the better part of the first half of 2003 is the very same environment that makes 28 Days Later the best horror film of our time. (Charles Mudede) Fifth Avenue Cinemas
Are We There Yet? Yes, that is Ice Cube, the same man who made AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted. Yes, that is Ice Cube, wrestling with a child for a juice box. Yes, that is Ice Cube, fighting with a deer. (Zac Pennington) Movies on TV , Division Street , Westgate , Cinema 99 , Hilltop , Vancouver Plaza , Lloyd Cinemas
The Aviator Like Oliver Stone's Alexander, Martin 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.
Awakenings and Epiphanies Four short films from Portland filmmakers Michael Poitevin, John Campbell, and Leslie Piper. Filmmakers in attendance. Clinton Street Theater
Bad Education If Hitchcock's Vertigo collided head-on with a drag queen variety show, the brilliant wreckage would be Pedro Almodovar's Bad Education. (Ryan Dirks) Fox Tower 10
Be Cool See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
Beneath the 12-Mile Reef A Greek father and son dive for sponges and evade octopi. (That's the correct plural form, isn't it? "Octopi"? It can't be "octopusses." That doesn't sound right--not at all. Yeah. We're going to stick with "octopi.") Old Town Pizza
Birthday Candles Local artist Todd Johnson's experimental video, focusing on memory and audiences' expectations of narrative chronology. A selection of Reed Arts Week. Reed College
Bride & Prejudice Gurinder Chadha, the director of Bend It Like Beckham, has revamped Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice with a Bollywood aesthetic. Essentially, this is a Disney movie for grownups, in which a recycled plot is dressed up with song and dance numbers that are just catchy enough to distract you from a nagging sense that there's probably some weird underlying racist/sexist shit going down. If the finger-snappin' music and over-the-top dance numbers aren't enough to distract you, there are also elephants, gospel singers, a cobra dance, and that chick from Gilmore Girls. (Alison Hallett) Fox Tower 10
Callas Forever Fantasy meets biopic in this maudlin take on the last days of Maria Callas, considered by many to be the greatest opera singer of all time. The premise: What if Callas hadn't died in 1977, alone and unhappy, after losing her singing voice? What if she'd been rescued from self-imposed exile by her gay, ponytail-sporting manager (Jeremy Irons!), who convinced her to film a lip-synched version of Carmen? Yes, it's a shitty premise, and writer/director/starry-eyed Callas fan Franco Zeffirelli does absolutely nothing to redeem it. Instead, he's created a film that caters only to gay men (and presumes that said audience has extremely bad taste). Fans of opera might enjoy the soundtrack and clips from Carmen, but I'm sorry, who the fuck likes opera? (Alison Hallett) Hollywood Theatre
Cinema Project Screening In an abrupt, oft-requested departure from their standard avant garde/experimental selections, Cinema Project finally devotes a program to the wacky comedy stylings of Jamie Kennedy, Seann William Scott, and Carrot Top! A selection of Reed Arts Week. Reed College
Closer Natalie Portman should have won. Laurelhurst
Constantine "You're fucked," archangel Gabriel tells John Constantine. As God's messenger, Gabriel (Tilda Swinton) is in a position to know. But Constantine (Keanu Reeves) isn't quite ready to give up. Sure, he's doomed to go to Hell for committing murder--but in a futile effort to get back on God's good side, he spends his life as a sort of chain smoking Ghostbuster, performing bed-shaking exorcisms and fighting computer-generated demons in equal measure. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Cursed Let's give Wes Craven the benefit of the doubt and assume that Cursed was intended as a spoof rather than an actual horror movie. Comic book-style violence, a fairly hilarious parallel between werewolfism and STDs, and a disappointing lack of both boobs and gore (pre-reqs for a good slasher flick) all support this conclusion. You might get a kick out of the cast if you're nostalgic for the mid-'90s (Joshua Jackson, Christinia Ricci, and Scott Baio all make appearances); otherwise, the film is little more than an hour and a half of mindless, non-scary teen schlock. (Alison Hallett) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Daughters of the Dust In 1902, and just off the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia, an extended African-American family gathers in a time of change. A selection of the 15th Annual Cascade Festival of African Films. PCC Cascade Campus
Diary of a Mad Black Woman Kimberly Elise stars as Helen, the housewife of a powerful attorney--who, on her wedding anniversary, gets tossed to the curb. Conveniently, there's a packed U-Haul out front (so that's why it was parked there!) along with a hunky driver, Orlando (Shemar Moore). Lacking money and friends, Helen returns to her old neighborhood and, with the help of her zany, gun-toting grandmother (played by Tyler Perry, who also adapted the screenplay from his stage play), starts over. Diary is on the tolerable side of the rom-com genre--Elise is less cloying than your Meg Ryans and Kate Hudsons--but it's still a rom-com and, if you're not into those, it's puke-tastic tripe. (Will Gardner) Century Eastport 16 , Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing , Evergreen Parkway , Lloyd Mall , Division Street
Grease After all the popular girls turned on me in sixth grade, they always used to shout at me, "Grease is your favorite movie! You're stupid!" That's when Grease and I parted ways. True story. (Katie Shimer) Ugly Mug Coffee
Have You Seen Clem? Aspiring filmmaker Jaymo (Kris Jamieson) finds himself homeless, and strikes up a friendship with homeless man Clem (Clem Weredail). The two head across the country, hoping to find answers to questions like why poverty remains in the affluent United States, and why Jaymo has such a stupid-ass name. Laurelhurst
Hitch The character of Alex "Hitch" Hitchens is custom-built for Will Smith's copyrighted onscreen persona--goofily handsome, witty, in control, and kind, Hitch is also New York's "date doctor," helping socially awkward men woo gorgeous women. Predictably, Hitch falls for gossip columnist Sara (Eva Mendes), and even more predictably, whenever the wooing Hitch tries to practice what he preaches, he fucks up. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Imaginary Heroes A syrupy, sniveling little formula-fest posing as an art house film. It takes virtually every single element taught in Indie Filmmaking 101, chops them up, and packages them in a shimmering wrap of meaningful glances and tender strains of music. We have our dysfunctional family unit with its repressed MILF Sandy (Sigourney Weaver), our sexually confused-but-lovable teenager Tim (Emile Hirsch), and our remote, embittered patriarch Ben (Jeff Daniels, who needs to face the fact that he will never give a better performance than he did in Dumb and Dumber). We have our tragedy that hangs over the family like a pall--the oldest son commits suicide at film's outset--and we have the requisite meltdowns as each character deals with things in their own special way. Weaver's Sandy (gasp!) starts smoking pot, and Hirsch's dullard Tim smokes pot too, tries to keep his bangs out of his face, and makes out with his best male friend while on ecstasy. Meanwhile, Daniels' Ben is such an irredeemable asshole for so long that his half-assed attempts to make amends in the end are downright angering. (Justin Sanders) Fox Tower 10
Imagining Home A documentary about the transformation of a Portland public housing project into a mixed-income community called New Columbia. Fifth Avenue Cinemas
Inside Deep Throat 1972's infamous skin flick showcasing Linda Lovelace's talent for fellatio became a lightning rod for national controversy; Inside Deep Throat looks at the film and its lasting legal, cultural, and financial repercussions. While the documentary's sometimes overbearingly stylized and thematically meandering, it's still a sobering reminder that while Americans love to talk about how freedom of speech is our big thing, we're equally defined by our suppression of it. (Erik Henriksen) Fox Tower 10
The Jacket See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
Man of the House Holy shit. A "by-the-book Texas Ranger" (Tommy Lee Jones) teams up with a "streetwise preacher" (Cedric the Entertainer) to protect five murder witnesses/"uncontrollable college coeds"--who also happen to be University of Texas cheerleaders! (Those excerpts are from the official press release, an illustrious document that also reveals the film's original title was Cheer Up. Needless to say, this film wasn't screened for critics.) Regal Cinemas, etc.
My Neighbor Totoro Following recent screenings of anime master Hayao Miyazaki's Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Porco Rosso, here's a third helping of Miyazaki's brilliance: My Neighbor Totoro, in which two little girls discover woodland spirits. Hollywood Theatre
Natural Born Killers Savage, sexy, serial-killing outlaws Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory (Juliette Lewis) root and toot their way across the country, spreading death and destruction wherever they go. Intended to be a parody of our society's fascination with violence, this film does wonders for the glamorization of murder--plus it features rattlesnake bites and one of the most violent prison riots ever portrayed in film! Guns up! (Marjorie Skinner) Clinton Street Theater
Nobody Knows Nobody Knows is a simple and true story: Keiko is a self-centered party girl who (oops!) happens to be a mother to four children. Mysteriously absent for weeks on end, she leaves her oldest son in charge. Had an hour been lopped off the film's three hour running time, Nobody Knows would be decently engaging. As it is, I couldn't make it through the whole film. (Phil Busse) Cinema 21
Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior See review this issue. Century Eastport 16 , Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing , Movies on TV , Lloyd Mall
The Pacifier Poor Vin Diesel. There was promise, once upon a time: Pitch Black, Boiler Room, The Fast and the Furious--for a moment, he had a glimmer of hope. Not as an actor, mind you, but as a presence--a meaty, menacing figure whose voice could launch a thousand threats. Now, however, that promise has been devoured by a need to "expand," that dreaded delusion that inflicts many a young bulging stud. Vin Diesel belongs as a villain, not as a Navy Seal who moves in with a suburban family (the specifics are unnecessary; all you need to know is that the plot, such as it is, is utterly idiotic), and despite his game efforts, The Pacifier is painfully inept. Oh how the menacing have fallen--from anti-hero to desperate career revival. I may not be your manager, dear Vin, but here's a tip free of charge: Ditch the kids and get back to being brutal. The world, and the movies, are better off with you there. (Bradley Steinbacher) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Rachida Living in mid-'90s Algeria, teacher Rachida (Ibtissem Djouadi) refuses a terrorist's demand to plant a bomb in her school. She's shot, and must recover. A selection of the 15th Annual Cascade Festival of African Films. PCC Cascade Campus
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead Tom Stoppard's comic reinvention of Hamlet. Pix Patisserie
THE Sea Inside Javier Bardem plays the real-life Spaniard Ramón Sampedro, a middle-aged quadriplegic who suffered a spine-crushing diving accident as a young man. Ramón's mind is just fine--brilliant, even--and he's surrounded by family and friends, and though he will never move his arms and legs again, his life seems rich enough to be fulfilling. Yet Ramón wants to die. The Sea Inside doesn't rehash the tired moral debate regarding death with dignity. Instead, it's an exquisitely thoughtful, gorgeously filmed portrayal of a sad and wonderful person. (Justin Sanders) Fox Tower 10
Sideways Paul Giamatti plays Miles, a would-be writer who accompanies his best friend Jack (Thomas Haden Church) on a weeklong trip through California's wine country.While Sideways is enjoyable, it's ultimately unsatisfying--we watch as Miles and Jack are stripped of all their illusions, but we never find out what they're replaced with. (Alison Hallett) Fox Tower 10 , City Center 12 , Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing , Lloyd Cinemas, Tigard Cinemas , Lake Twin Cinema, St. Johns Theater , Milwaukie 3 Theater
Sisters of the Screen: African Women in Cinema Filmmaker Beti Ellerson will be in attendance to present her documentary Sisters of the Screen, which looks at more than 30 African women directors. A selection of the 15th Annual Cascade Festival of African Films. PCC Cascade Campus
Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation The good ones: three Happy Tree Friends shorts (which you can rent at the video store). The bad ones: everything else. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Cinema 21
Student Film Screening Students of the Northwest Film Center's Art of Filmmaking class show their stuff. Old Town Pizza
The Third Man & Touch of Evil This night was formerly titled "Orson Welles-A-Palooza '05." They were right to change the title. Chance of Rain Cafe
Till the Clouds Roll By A biopic of/tribute to Broadway pioneer Jerome Kern, featuring Judy Garland, Dinah Shore, and Frank Sinatra. Cafe Nola
Time Bandits The Blind Onion kicks off a month of Terry Gilliam films. In Time Bandits, a little boy travels through time, escorted by treasure-hunting dwarves. Blind Onion
Top Gun The last film of the Mercury's Winter Prozac Film Fest! See My, What A Busy Week! on pg 17. (Wm. Steven Humprey) Clinton Street Theater
Tragos & Orphans of Delerium The year is 2012, and the mainstream media has finally ruined society--forcing a cult of San Francisco pagans underground... until a Christian fundamentalist comes after 'em! Though some long, needless scenes are more film school than social commentary, the combo of film noir and The Matrix makes Tragos an absorbable experience. On the other hand, Antero's other film, Orphans of Delirium, just made me want to kill myself. (Andrea Chalupa) Hollywood Theatre