Bruce Willis plays drunky, washed up cop Jack Mosley, who's supposed to transport petty thief Eddie (Mos Def) 16 blocks to the courthouse. That short trip turns into a long one when the two figure out that Eddie is the target of dirty cops who want to stop him from testifying. Though I wouldn't dare spoil the surprises to come, let's just say Jack has to put down the bottle and call forth some of the old stuff. 16 Blocks hearkens back to the great, gritty crime dramas of the '70s, and director Richard Donner captures that sweaty claustrophobia in a tight-as-a drum action flick that never disappoints. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Regal Cinemas, etc.
After a storm on the coast of Florida, two best friends, Claire (Emma Roberts) and Hailey (JoJo), find a gorgeous mermaid, Aquamarine (Sara Paxton), trapped in a swimming pool. Squealing ensues, as does a dopey but cute attempt to prove to Aquamarine's father that love exists (to avoid her being forced into marriage with a "squid"... duh). Aside from the hurdles of concealing Aquamarine's true identity and evading this total bitch who's trying to ruin everything and isn't even pretty, even if she does have boobs, all three girls end up learning something pretty nifty about love. (Hint: it's all about BFFs.) (Marjorie Skinner) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Ask the Dust
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10
The Isabelle Huppert love-fest continues at the Northwest Film Center. Whitsell Auditorium
The Boys of Baraka
See review this issue. Cinema 21
Caché hinges on the idea that just underneath society, and deep within the lives of normal people, all sorts of vile and unspeakable things lurk in wait. In fact, the film's almost too nuanced to be the thriller it purports to be—in addition to the marital drama, it touches on class, voyeurism, childrearing, and some pretty heavy race-related subtext. Nope, not a hardcore thriller. But totally worth watching all the same. (Alison Hallett) Fox Tower 10, Lake Twin Cinema, Cinemagic
A film, predictably enough, about Truman Capote, Capote follows the writer during the creation of In Cold Blood, the book that both made him a household name and distressed him so much that he never completed another work. Capote is a film that will reward you with its design and execution, if you're willing to suspend the temptation of hair-trigger judgments that may be provoked by its sometimes difficult complexity. I highly recommend you do so. (Evan James) Laurelhurst, Academy Theater, Kennedy School, Mission Theater
See short for Between Us. Whitsell Auditorium
Crash, the directing debut of Million Dollar Baby screenwriter Paul Haggis, certainly doesn't want for hubris, but ultimately, it's an exhibit of laudable ambition overwhelming Haggis' still-developing narrative abilities. Although Haggis' would-be epic portrayal of race relations in Los Angeles sports a handful of genuinely searing moments, it's hard to shake the sense of someone constantly rearranging 3 by 5 cards behind the scenes for maximum impact. (Andrew Wright) Bagdad Theater
Dave Chappelle's Block Party
Block Party's unbelievable roster goes like this: Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Kanye West, Common, Erykah Badu, the Roots, Dead Prez, and Jill Scott. And then there're the Fugees, and then there's host Chappelle, who liberally scatters his comedy throughout, and then there's Ohio's Central State University Marching Band. Is the music fucking amazing? Of course it is; to call this some of the best music of the past decade seems, weirdly, like an understatement. And is the comedy great? What do you think, Sherlock? (Erik Henriksen) Broadway Metroplex, Lloyd Mall
Luis Bunuel's riveting 1967 classic finds a group of socialites who inexplicably cannot leave the room after a dinner party winds down. They stay in the dining room for days, as they run out of food, resort to primal violence, and begin to die off. (Chas Bowie) Video Verite
Failure to Launch
Sarah Jessica Parker is a "professional interventionist," Paula, who's hired to date/cure men like Matthew McConaughey's Trip—who are unwilling or unable to move out of their parents' homes. Even though the central characters are more Sarah and Matthew than Trip and Paula—lord knows we'd hardly recognize SJP if she wasn't in an awkward dating situation—Launch manages to strike a fair balance between originality and familiar, sappy likeability. (Marjorie Skinner) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Since foreigners are always up to no good (Air Force One), Harrison Ford's family is taken hostage by a nefarious limey (Paul Bettany) who coerces Harrison into robbing a bank! So Harrison also has to save his family (Patriot Games), but since he's getting old, he can't only use fisticuffs (Clear and Present Danger)—so he also relies on his wits (Presumed Innocent). (Luckily, he gets some help from a clever secretary [Working Girl].) Too bad he can't go to the cops, because the bad guys have framed him for a crime he didn't commit (The Fugitive). (Erik Henriksen) Cinetopia, Cinema 99
A '50s sci-fi cult classic, Forbidden Planet is the story of astronauts investigating the demise of an Earth colony, and finding a cool-as-shit robot, and Anne Francis prancing around in a miniskirt. Rrrrowwrr, rrrowwrr! Laurelhurst
Mercy Corps presents this screening of Courtesans, a film about a rural Indian town's tradition of entering their oldest daughter into prostitution to help support their families and the local economy. Starring Ruben Studdard Guild
The Hills Have Eyes
Much like the MTV-ized Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake from a few years ago, the new version of Wes Craven's 1977 desert mutants vs. dumbass tourists saga The Hills Have Eyes utterly trumps its source material on a technical level. When it comes to getting your primal ya yas out, though, the combination of state-of-the-art effects and actors who can actually act makes it somehow easier to shrug off—this re-imagining certainly amps up the unpleasantness, but that coveted nightmare vibe remains elusive. (Andrew Wright) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Led Zeppelin: The Song Remains the Same
Duuuuude, it's totally time to get the Led out! Clinton Street Theater
In The Libertine, Johnny Depp plays a syphilitic nobleman whose condition deteriorates until he is barely recognizable as human. Depp is malicious and delicious in the first half of the film, but the film's second half is devoted to painstakingly following his increasingly gross deterioration—the fun seeps out of the film like pus from Depp's oozing face, until all that's left are the tired, common sense reminders that too much drug use makes you ugly, and that you should always use a rubber if you're going to sleep with whores. (Alison Hallett) Regal Cinemas, etc.
See short for Between Us. Guild
Madea's Family Reunion
Tyler Perry's creations—full of monstrous characters, plus-sized plots, and operatic gospel climaxes—are a genre unto themselves. Perry started out on the so-called "chitlin'" theater circuit, and his gun-toting grandma character, Madea, is a pure creature of the stage. Part drag queen, part sketch comic, and all Southern black rage, Madea has to be seen to be believed. This episode wasn't screened for the press—too many critics are ignorant white people, and all the reviews of Perry's last film (Diary of a Mad Black Woman) were just this side of hostile. (Annie Wagner) Lloyd Mall
Okay, the awful truth: This local mockumentary buhhhhlooooows. It's 24 shrill minutes of a fake-ass leprechaun yelling with a fake-ass Irish accent that Portland's Mill Ends Park—the smallest park in the world—rightfully belongs to him. The story never moves forward, but along the way we're treated to some "interviews" with "local officials," all attempting—and failing—to improvise realistic, funny commentary. City Commissioner Sam Adams makes a good-sport appearance (he's the only real official in the film), proving that he'll do anything his constituents request. Then again, the audio dropped out on my screening copy for about a third of the film—maybe that was when all the funny jokes happened. I'd forgive this if it were about 23 minutes shorter. (Scott Moore) Mission Theater
Neil Young: Heart of Gold
This is Jonathan Demme's first concert film since the Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense, one of the greatest live music movies ever. But Sense was a visual film, with amazing slideshows, props, and a singer who pioneered the post-punk spaz out. Heart of Gold? A bunch of old dudes standing in place, singing harmony. (Chas Bowie) Fox Tower 10
From Night Watch's opening battle, which could be mistaken for a scene in The Two Towers, to the familial plot twists and the inner good versus evil turmoil of the Star Wars saga, this Russian fantasy action film is full of familiar themes—but it presents them in an unmistakably post-Communist Russian light. But best of all, the movie actually has a soul—it's refreshing to see an effects-driven movie that has moments of humor as well as compelling characters. (Steven Lankenau) City Center 12, Fox Tower 10
The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear
A documentary that shows how some politicians gain power—by promising to deliver us from supposed threats that we don't see or understand. It takes a look at the American Conservatives and the Islamic Radicals, and how both use the idea of terrorism to obtain such power. In other words, it's fucking scary. (Christine S. Blystone) Guild
The Promised Life
See short for Between Us. Whitsell Auditorium
Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip
1982's comedy concert film with Richard Pryor. Screened to benefit animal rights activists the SHAC 7. Hollywood Theatre
The Russo Japanese War: A Study in Extremes
The title of this film sounds like some book that nerdy kid you knew in high school would totally be reading before his D&D sesh, but this film by Oregon's Historian Laureate, Thomas Vaughan, follows "the first major conflict of the modern age," which means it actually might be kind of interesting. Whitsell Auditorium
See short for Between Us. Whitsell Auditorium
The Shaggy Dog
For some reason, we had a really, really hard time finding a critic to attend the screening of this remake, starring Tim Allen. Following are some of the reactions to emails sent out asking if anyone would like to screen the film. —Ed. I'd rather clean Tim Allen's shit-speckled toilet with my lacerated feet than go see one of his films. (Adam Gnade) I'd rather go out in public wearing nothing but an already shat-in adult diaper than go see one of Allen's films. (Justin Sanders) I would rather regurgitate the contents of my stomach, let the Shaggy Dog lick it up, and then cut him open so I could lick up the contents of his stomach than watch Tim Allen in The Shaggy Dog. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) I'd rather lick Marshall the Puggle's balls while reading back issues of the Willamette Week than see a Tim Allen movie. (Chas Bowie) I'd rather chew a handful of razor blades and wash them down with a Hepatitis C milkshake than go see this. (Scott Moore) Regal Cinemas, etc.
She's the Man
See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
The Squid and the Whale
An insightful, affecting, and darkly funny film that's rooted in the human element, in the simple recounting, with no judgments and no clichés, of a family falling apart. (Erik Henriksen) Laurelhurst, Bagdad Theater
Stand by Me
The most effectively cheesy movie ever made—about some kids who bond over a dead body on a camping trip. Guaranteed to make you call all members of your immediate family and tell them you love them. Broadway Metroplex
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
I hate to say this kind of thing in print, and I rarely do, so maybe you'll forgive me: The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada is the closest thing to a perfect movie you'll ever find. (Justin Sanders) Fox Tower 10, St. Johns Twin Cinema and Pub, Lake Twin Cinema, Moreland Theater, Century Eastport 16
Transamerica—despite the buzz surrounding it—isn't so much a "transsexual movie" as it is something far less innovative: a totally conventional road movie. (Will Gardner) Fox Tower 10, City Center 12, Roseway Theatre
Transformers: The Movie
The cast includes Orson Welles, Eric Idle, Judd Nelson, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Stack, and Scatman Crothers. The story involves Autobots battling the evil Decepticons. The soundtrack includes the song "The Touch," which was covered—and subsequently immortalized—by Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights. The film, in a word, is amazing. (Bradley Steinbacher) Clinton Street Theater
Trapped in the Closet
It's so hard to decide who my favorite character is from Trapped in the Closet. Is it Li'l Man? Bridget? Twan? Yes, definitely Twan. If you haven't seen this musical Martin Lawrence-meets-Edward Albee stroke of brilliance, DO NOT miss your chance to catch it tonight, free, with the lesser-known R. Kelly classic videos, Down Low and Feelin' On Yo Booty. Damn, my day got better just typing that! (Chas Bowie) Video Verite
Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
Okay, bear with me for a minute: This comedy is about a real novel, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman—a 700-plus page behemoth written in the late 1700s, and supposedly the first post-modern novel. The film—which is actually about a bunch of people trying to film the "unfilmable" text—resembles, at times, an insider-y DVD behind-the-scenes extra: It has all the gossip, romance, and competition one would expect on a movie set. And it's awesome, every bit as farcical and naughty as the really old novel it's based on. (Amy Jenniges) Hollywood Theatre
Not screened for critics, this futuristic action flick stars genre go-to girl Milla Jovovich. The ads make it look like crap, but director Kurt Wimmer's last film—the direct to video Equilibrium, with Christian Bale—was a surprisingly solid sci-fi actioner. So yeah. We don't know. Milla is pretty, though. We know that. Regal Cinemas, etc.
V for Vendetta
See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
The first part in a locally-produced, episodic "action/fantasy show" developed for the internet. Bagdad Theater
When the Sea Rises
45-year-old actress Irene (Yolande Moreau) is driving around doing her one-woman show when she has car trouble—luckily, Dries (Wim Willaert) is there to help out. According to the film's press release, "mature, mutual longing" ensues. Hollywood Theatre