Portland Underground Film Festival

The 2008 Portland Underground Film Festival (PUFF) runs through Sunday, June 15. All screenings are at the Clinton St. Theater. Below are reviews of the films given to the Mercury for review; not all films were made available. For more info, see review or hit clintonsttheater.com.


Set in some alternate-dimension LA where no one gets cell phone reception, The 13th Alley features six idiots hanging out in a bowling alley after hours, playing a depressing game of strip bowling, and getting offed by a prude serial killer—also the worst acting you'll ever see. The 13th Alley is even less fun than a real game of bowling. COURTNEY FERGUSON


See review.


Watching Todd E. Freeman's Come Hell or Highwater is like getting a large, mediocre tattoo: it's bloody and repetitive, it takes all night, and it's not nearly as artistic as you'd hope. Cops and killers chase and shoot each other on scratchy film stock, with long stretches of staring into the camera, visitations from dead characters, and dialogue boiled past the point of cliché. Lacking any kind of kinetic energy, the film feels like it wants to be a series of stills or a graphic novel, rather than an actual motion picture. NED LANNAMANN


See review.


See review.


An impressively titled tale of four roommates whose lives are "unexpectedly interrupted by the news of an alleged bioterrorist attack in their city." Hey, just like The Happening! Except hopefully not fucking awful.


See Film Short for Last Days. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.

See Film Short for Last Days. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.

recommended The Go-Getter
Mercer White (Lou Taylor Pucci) is one lucky guy. Sure, his long-absent older brother is a scumbag and crook, and his sort-of girlfriend is making porn videos with her cousin. Oh, and his mom just died after a long and awful illness. But when Mercer steals a Volvo station wagon at a Eugene, Oregon carwash, the car's owner calls the cell phone left inside—and she turns out to be Zooey Deschanel! Jackpot! What's more, Deschanel's character is probably the nicest person in the world. She's not angry with Mercer—she doesn't even call the cops. They make an agreement: As Mercer drives south to look for his brother, he'll recount his adventures for her over the phone. It's a small, somewhat precious twist on the familiar road trip movie, but The Go-Getter has a lot going for it. NED LANNAMANN Living Room Theaters.

The Happening
See review. Various Theaters.

House of Usher
The latest adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's tale wasn't screened for critics, but if the official website is any indication—the splash page features not one but four chiseled, bare-chested men, one of whom is in boxer shorts—we're going to take a stab in the dark and say that this time around, there's something very, very gay going on down at Usher's pad. Hollywood Theatre.

Impact Film Festival
A one-night-long fest with five short documentaries and discussion panels "about the intersections of environment, community, and public health." Patchouli alert! Hollywood Theatre.

The Incredible Hulk
See review. Various Theaters.

Last Days
The final film in the loose and controversial trilogy Van Sant began with 2002's Gerry and continued with 2003's Elephant, Last Days imagines the final, undocumented days of Kurt Cobain's life following his escape from a Los Angeles rehab center. Officially only "inspired" by the events of Cobain's death, Van Sant does little to specifically alter the known facts of the story—the setting is slightly altered, and "Kurt" becomes "Blake." Van Sant's shallow "inspired by" qualifier is, then, either a thinly veiled sidestep around the notoriously litigious arm of Courtney Love, or just a means to indulge the director's creative license. Whichever the case, the responsibility Van Sant dodges from the onset in Last Days is but the first of several shots fired squarely at his film's foot. Like the other films in his trilogy, Van Sant has sense enough to reward the viewer visually, even as he stretches all bounds of the audience's patience with the narrative. ZAC PENNINGTON Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.

Lord, Save Us from Your Followers
See review. Hollywood Theatre.

Outdoor Film Screening and

Live Music
Cinema Project presents an outdoor screening of work by Rudy Burckhardt, Harry Smith, John Smith, and others. Bonus: A "one of a kind viola experience" by Dash! More info: cinemaproject.org. City Repair Temple.

The Poor Pay More
Morton Silverstein's 1967 documentary was shot in Harlem, and aimed to "expose how the poor have to pay more for all the basics." Shown via an original 16mm print. Mississippi Station.

recommended The Promotion
See review. Fox Tower 10.

A short film by Adam Keller and Stephanie Simek, wherein "two creatures join forces to learn something about love." Rererato.

A Snowmobile for George
Writer/producer Todd Darling tears more than a few pages out of Michael Moore's book in making this homey, homemade agit-doc about the Bush administration's deregulation policies. Using his pollution-spewing two-stroke snowmobile as a starting point, Darling's soon hopping across the country and investigating everything from the Klamath Basin irrigation controversy of 2001 and 2002 to the fallout, both figurative and literal, that enveloped Manhattan in the days after 9/11. Darling's journey feels earnest enough, even if nothing new is learned ("polarized voters are easier to manipulate" is one of his big revelations). ERIK HENRIKSEN Hollywood Theatre.

recommended To the Limit
An exhilaratingly shot, vertigo-inducing documentary about Alexander and Thomas Huber, two rock-climbing brothers who aim to break the world record for speed climbing El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. (There's also a quick diversion to Patagonia, where they attempt the equally daunting task of climbing some lethal-looking mountain in the midst of terrible weather.) To the Limit's visuals are appropriately awe-inspiring as the Hubers swing around, billions of feet in the air, leaping from rock to rock and engaging in what one of them calls "an absolute revolt against common sense"—even though the film occasionally gets bogged down in some cheesy nightmare sequences, director Pepe Danquart manages to capture the thrill of the speed climb, the daunting nature of the Hubers' goal, and the tensions that rise between the brothers as they wholeheartedly rely on each other while doing some incredibly exciting and stupid stuff. ERIK HENRIKSEN Cinema 21.

The Tracey Fragments
It's like a Juno hater's ultimate revenge fantasy: Ellen Page in a ridiculous art film, earnestly acting out every film school cliché known to cinephiles: Splitscreens offering multiple perspectives on the same scene, montages, dream-like imagery that features clowns, dolls, horses.... This might be the most brilliant parody ever—but more likely, it's just really, really bad. ALISON HALLETT Hollywood Theatre.

recommended Trailermania
Classic movie trailers. Clinton Street Theater.

Vintage Portland
Classic 16mm Portland-related films. Clinton Street Theater.