* 21 Grams See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.

* 9 To 5
Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton tie up their sexist boss, Dabney Coleman, and take control of the company. Productivity jumps and women are proven superior. 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) Laurelhurst

* Bad Santa
Despite his crippling, perpetual drunkenness, Willy (Billy Bob Thornton) possesses a strange gift: he can crack a mean safe. Every Christmas he and his fiery dwarf friend (Tony Cox, hilarious) team up as a Santa/elf team to work the papier-m=ché North Pole in some generic department store, case the joint for a few days, then sneak in after hours and rob it. It's a ridiculous premise that feels almost like an afterthought as director Terry Zwigoff relentlessly mines the angst-riddled depths of his characters. Through a series of cinematically silly contrivances, Willy shacks up in the beautiful suburban house of an obese boy who thinks he's the real Santa. The boy (Brett Kelly), referred to simply as "the kid," is a typical, picked-on elementary school geek, with no friends and no life. Willy, unsympathetic to the very end, calls him names, shouts obscenities in his face, and eats all the chocolates in his Advent calendar. Through it all the kid remains oblivious, loving Santa always, and eventually Willy, through his drunken haze, starts to feel some love, too. (Justin Wescoat Sanders) Regal Cinemas

The Cat in the Hat
Staying true to the original Dr. Suess classic, two siblings are tempted by a talking cat into wrecking their house. Surprisingly, this live action version nicely captures Seuss' sense of unbridled mischief. In a startling turn, the kids who play Conrad and Sally are completely charming and non-annoying. Their mom (Kelly Preston) is hot and believable, and Alec Baldwin is a goddamn hoot as her slimy boyfriend. Though Seuss purists may pooh-pooh the appearance of a slimy boyfriend, rest assured you'll thank your lucky stars Alec Baldwin is here--because Mike Myers STINKS! But regardless of Myers' repeated attempts to wreck this movie, I'm still going to recommend it. The scenery is gorgeous, the supporting cast is wonderful... and then there's a cameo by Paris Hilton. The sum of The Cat in the Hat's parts far outweighs the egregious over-acting of its feral star. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Regal Cinemas

* Cheaper by the Dozen, Sneak Preview
A remake of the 1950 film, this time starring Steve Martin as a dad with 12 kids who moves from a small town to Chicago where he's offered a job as the football coach at Northwestern. Also stars the real sexiest man alive, Ashton Kutcher. Evergreen Parkway, Lloyd Cinemas, Tigard Cinemas

* Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid
Steve Martin stars as a detective in this spoof about a prominent cheese scientist whose car accident on a mountain pass may have been foul play. Spliced with scenes from old detective flicks, this is over-the-top camp. Old Town Pizza

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 preying on fellow immigrants. Frears' London is engaging in that's is a place where corruption is taken for granted, but unfortunately the plot resolves itself mechanically. (Andy Spletzer) Laurelhurst

Elephant shows us a couple days in the life of two grumpy teens who go all Vice City on their Portland high school. Both the boys are cardboard characters who shop for guns on the internet, play violent video games, and have a brief homosexual affair. Neither is likeable, neither evokes sympathy. Their fellow high school students, however, are worse. We follow around ridiculous bitches who throw up after lunch. A sappy, hair-gelled guy who takes meaningful photos of everyone. A poor, curly haired dork who reshelves books in the school library. The world would not be better or worse if all of these people were dead. And then they are. They all get gunned down by the two boys, and it's not sad. It's a little bloody, but not sad. (Katie Shimer) Fox Tower 10

* Elf
It's no secret that Will Ferrell is one funny mo-fo, and yet to this point in time his movie roles have been limited to comic relief. 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. (Justin Sanders) Regal Cinemas, Oak Grove 8 Theater, St. Johns Theater

The Fifth Horseman Is Fear
There are perhaps more parallels between the German-occupied territories of World War II and contemporary political and military realities than we care to admit. Certainly in both the basic elements of fear, secrecy, and paranoia are out in full bloom. This 1964 Czech film exploits those emotions with grand fashion as a Jewish physician roams through the streets of Prague searching for morphine for a patient. What transgresses is an epic journey into horror, exploitation, and moral decay. Whitsell Auditorium

Flower of Evil
A French film about a wealthy family who is inconvenienced when one of their women decides to run for mayor. Koin Center

* Gothika
Horror films like Gothika are potentially easy to ruin. Anytime you pack a story with insane people, religious metaphor/mythology, Viktor Frankl's reality theories, sexually abused inmates, unsolved crime, and an inexplicably vengeful ghost, you'd better be able to back that azz up with a good cast, director, conceptual artist, composer, and a willing audience. Luckily, Gothika has all these things--including the Frankl stuff--and it turns out great, and genuinely scary, to boot. In the psychologically disarming scare-tradition of The Ring, Gothika tells the suspenseful tale of Dr. Miranda Grey, a gifted shrink (Halle Berry) treating Chloe, a mentally disturbed woman (Penelope Cruz), who's convinced the devil himself is raping her, "filling her with fire." "You can't trust someone who thinks you're crazy," Chloe tells Grey. Pretty soon, Grey figures out what that means when, after having a frightening encounter with a beaten and shivering woman on a bridge, Grey wakes up in the very insane asylum where she works--as a patient. (Julianne Shepherd) Regal Cinemas

The Haunted Mansion See review this issue. Regal Cinemas

* 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, and it is the quality of this fall into love, its problems, its complexities, the scandal it generates, that the film revolves around. The conclusion of the affair is the substance of The Human Stain. (Charles Mudede) City Center 12, Hollywood Theatre

I Hired A Contract Killer
Despondent and completely useless to society, Henri hires a contact killer to, well, kill him. But, of course, then he meets a wonderful woman and falls in love. Unfortunately for him, his hired killer is bulldog-determined to carry out his job! Yeah, bummer. Guild Theater

Intolerable Cruelty
George Clooney is charming, playing a caricature of a rich divorce lawyer who is bored with winning cases and making buckets of money. Enter Catherine Zeta, a gold-digging man hater, who is just clever enough to perk Clooney's interest. A battle of the sexes ensues, between two of the most selfish, loveless human beings on the planet. The Coen brothers give us a pleasant comedy with Intolerable Cruelty, which is worth seeing for Clooney's performance alone, but the film doesn't breach any new territory, and certainly doesn't measure up to Fargo or Miller's Crossing. (Katie Shimer) Fox Tower 10, Lloyd Cinemas

* It's A Wonderful Life
Good friends, clumsy angels, and a suicidal banker who learns that the world does revolve around him. Ooh! Ooh! And Zuzu petals! Don't forget Zuzu petals! Kiggins Theater

Taking the love triangle between a naive farm couple and a slick city slicker, director Aki Kaurismaki recasts the 1911 Juani Aho novel in the time that it was written. Shot in black and white, and accompanied only by a haunting symphonic soundtrack. Guild Theater

* Kill Bill: Volume 1
Unlike the meandering plots of Tarantino's previous films, Kill Bill is dead-on simple: Uma Thurman stars as "The Bride"--an assassin who's shot in the noggin on her wedding day by a band of killers sent out by her former boss, Bill. Unfortunately for the prop masters who had to come up with a kajillion gallons of fake blood, The Bride didn't die--and after snapping out of a coma, she commissions a samurai blade from a venerable sword-maker and sets off to slice and dice everyone who dared ruin her perfect day. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Fox Tower 10, Lloyd Mall

* Kung Fu Marathon
Kung Fu Movies all day from noon until midnight. Step in step out, and pay only $5 for up to 12 hours of kung-fu chop sockey. See My What a Busy Week pg 9 Clinton Street Theater

La Vie Boheme
Rapping off of Henri Murger's 1851 novel (and Puccini's opera), director Aki Kaurismaki updates the well-known story about three bohemians and their fateful encounter with two waifs from the French provinces. Kicking out the full-lunged opera singing for rage-tinged punk music, the film is a hip, funny and charming update of an old concept. Guild Theater

* Little Otik
With children and pregnant ladies all around, Karel and Bozenka Horak desperately want a baby of their own, but alas! They are both utterly barren. Their collective infertility drives them temporarily insane, which manifests itself when Mr. Horak digs a tree stump from the ground and carves it into the shape of a baby. They begin treating the tree as if it is a child, dressing it up in swaddling clothes, breast-feeding it, and pushing it around in a pram. They even manage to fool their neighbors into thinking the baby is real, at least, until people in their apartment building start to disappear. (Julianne Shepherd) Whitsell Auditorium

* Lone Star
John Sayles classic film about a Texas border town sheriff who discovers a skeleton in the desert, and through his investigations of the death, unearths the undead secrets of the town. During his investigation he is also trying to rekindle a love affair with his high school sweetheart. PSU Smith Memorial Union Rm 225

* Lost in Translation
In less delicate hands, Lost in Translation could easily have been a dull, pretentious disaster, but Sofia Coppola has two cards tucked up her sleeve. One is the city of Tokyo itself, which has never looked so mysterious and engaging in an American film, and the other is Bill Murray, the bulk of whose part comes across as having been improvised. Why someone has not thought of dropping Murray among the citizens of a strange foreign city before remains a mystery, but without him--and despite the fine work of Coppola and Scarlett Johansson--Lost in Translation would surely fail. (Bradley Steinbacher) Fox Tower 10, Lloyd Cinemas

* 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. (Justin Sanders) Regal Cinemas, Roseway

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
The year is 1805 and Napoleon is running roughshod over Europe. The only thing stopping France from infecting the whole of the continent is the tiny island of England, which may be lacking in ground forces, but kicks ass on the high seas. Russell Crowe plays Cap'n "Lucky" Jack Aubrey, one of Britain's finest seamen, who runs afoul of a Frenchy frigate boasting twice the guns and manpower. Barely escaping with their lives, Cap'n Jack becomes obsessed with the Froggie warboat, and vows to send ship and crew to the bottom of the briny blue. However, best friend and ship's doctor Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany) fears his Captain has slipped off the deep end, and "Lucky" Jack must find a middle ground between swabbing his enemy's decks in blood and his own humanity. Master and Commander may not be sexy, but it's extremely realistic, filling its ship with lashings, maggot-filled food, dirty stinking sailors, and the occasional goat. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Regal Cinemas

The Match Factory Girl
Finnish director Ari Kaurismaki takes a downtrodden factory worker and gives her a new dress and a one-night stand. Her sudden change in fate sends her spirits soaring, but they soon crash into the banal reality of her life. Stripped of her fantasies, the young woman sets out on a path of, at times, funny and, always, sweet revenge. Guild Theater

Matrix: Revolutions
This time around, the Wachowskis don't even mess with philosophy. Mystifyingly, they don't mess with kung fu either--above all else, their bread and butter to this point--outside of an over-the-top superhero climax between Neo and the rogue program Smith who, for poorly explained reasons, has become a kind of demigod. Meanwhile, filling the brunt of the film, the humans in the City of Zion wage endless battles with the oncoming machines and their squadrons of sperm-looking freaks. Explosions and gunfire fill the screen for what feels like hours, streamlined with an amazingly huge glut of banal one-liners, plus the development of Trinity and Neo's "love," which is only slightly less passionless than the mating scene in the IMAX classic, Beavers. (Justin Sanders) Regal Cinemas

The Missing
The fact that The Missing is directed by Ron Howard should be a tip-off that it isn't the supernatural and eerie tale promised by the advertisements. Set in 1885 New Mexico, the story starts with intriguing promise. Maggie (played by Cate Blanchett) is a single mom raising two daughters. When her eldest sets out to town one day, she is abducted by an evil shaman and his lawless pack of Navajo Indians, who plan to sell her and several other frontier teens in Mexico. With the cavalry and the sheriff unable to help out, Maggie, along with her long-absent father (Tommy Lee Jones), take off after the kidnappers. What could have been friction between frontier families and Indians, between Christianity and witchcraft, instead turns into long, drawn-out galloping scenes and achingly empty conversations between Maggie and her desperado father. (Phil Busse) Regal Cinemas

Yet another in the cheery series of Czech films at the Film Center, a Gothic-styled fairytale about a psychotic older sibling who slowly poisons her younger, sweet-faced sister. Whitsell Auditorium

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

* The Original Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Leatherface saws up a bunch of kids in the 1974 classic! Clinton Street Theater

* Pieces of April
Starring Katie Holmes, Patricia Clarkson, and Oliver Platt, Pieces of April has a look and feel that I hesitate to label "documentary-like." Gritty due to its transfer of digital to celluloid and mainly handheld, there is a certain spontaneity in the film, almost an improvised feel, that is enhanced by the sharp cast. Clarkson is particularly good, becoming the heart of the film that the rest of the group rotates around. (Bradley Steinbacher) Fox Tower 10

Pirates of the Caribbean
Johnny Depp plays Captain Jack Sparrow, a pirate so swishy that upon first seeing him, a kid sitting behind me cried out, "He walks like a girl!" Depp acts as if he were auditioning to play a new Austin Powers villain, Rear Admiral Stinky. Geoffrey Rush, on the other hand, was born to play a scrofulous, cursed old seadog, and he gives almost as convincing a performance as your average theme park robot. Plus, he has a naughty zombie monkey who rides around on his shoulder. (Dan Howland) Avalon, Bagdad Theater, Laurelhurst, Milwaukie 3 Theater, Mt. Hood Theater, St. Johns Pub

Combining the two most odious tools at Hollywood's disposal--celebrities portraying the mentally handicapped and Cuba Gooding Jr. --Radio is something like Rudy meets The Waterboy. With "heart." Oh, the heart. Avalon, Laurelhurst, Sherwood 10

The Rise of Louis XIV
Have you ever bemoaned that so much great history happened before the invention of cameras and documentary films? Here's an antidote to that lament: One of the greatest recreations of history for the sake of a documentary film, French director Roberto Bossellini splices together the rise and fall, behind the throne chronicle of Louis XIV. Whitsell Auditorium

* Runaway Jury
Set in modern-day New Orleans, John Grisham's latest pulp fiction-turned-screenplay draws on the standard Grisham tricks. There's the expected cynicism and paranoia. And where we're ignorant about what happens behind the closed doors of jury rooms, Grisham fills in with grandiose conspiracies. Here, the story begins when a daytrader is murdered. Two years later, his widow has brought to trial a liability suit against the gun manufacturers. Though we want justice to prevail, powerful gun company CEOs conspire to sway, bribe, and bully a jury to rule their way. (Phil Busse) Koin Center

* Rundown
The Rock and Stifler from American Pie star in this entertaining action/adventure flick about a bounty hunter (The Rock) who has to track down his employer's son (Stifler) in the jungles of Brazil. Beautiful scenery and great fight scenes make up for a formulaic plot and terrible Brazilian accents. (Katie Shimer) Bagdad Theater, Mt. Hood Theater

Before being discovered by an oddball trainer in the 1930s, Seabiscuit was a lazy lie-around horse with a goofy gait. He was unruly, abused, and could barely keep pace in minor-league country fair races. But coupled with a nearly blind and down-on-his-luck jockey, Seabiscuit stormed into the top tier of horseracing and, for a stretch of three years or so, became the most written-about celebrity in America. The moral, as the new film version of the horse's life crams down our gullet, is "you don't throw a whole life away because it's banged up a little." Yet in spite of this spirited true-life story, Dreamworks does the story complete injustice by kicking Seabiscuit's corpse for the sake of a summer blockbuster. It's unclear why Dreamworks bothered to work with a true story. The film version deletes and adds major facts at will. In a classic Disney turn of events, they omit Seabiscuit's follies and loses, and clean and sober up Seabiscuit's primary jockey, Red (played by Tobey Maguire), who was endlessly profane and often drunk in real life. (Phil Busse) Avalon, Edgefield, Kennedy School, Laurelhurst, Mission Theater

* Shattered Glass
Stephen Glass, a fast-rising writer and editor for the New Republic, scandalized the journalism world in 1998 when it was unearthed that an article he penned for his employer, titled "Hack Heaven," was an outright fabrication. Shattered Glass chronicles Glass' exposure and tumble. Despite some minor flaws, the film shows us in an intelligent fashion how the reputation damage to the New Republic came about, and gives us a smart portrayal of Stephen Glass the man. (Bradley Steinbacher) Fox Tower 10

* 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. (Brian Brait) Koin Center

* Stoked
Mark "Gator" Anthony Rogowski was perhaps the most graceful vertical skater who ever lived. Thanks to his fearless talent on the half-pipe, in a matter of years, Gator progressed from breaking into backyards in order to skate pools, to representing Vision Street Wear, guesting on Club MTV with Downtown Julie Brown, and hanging out with Cindy Crawford. Essentially, he was skateboarding's first national hero, a charismatic, caustic fellow who loved the limelight almost as much as he loved to skate. These days, however, Gator's notoriety comes from darker avenues: in 1991, angry and lost from his decrease in popularity, he raped and murdered Jessica Bergston, the best friend of his former fiancée. Stoked! tells Gator's story, and through it, the story of skateboarding in America, as it grew from a small regional subculture to a fully marketable national pastime, complete with skaters tantamount to rock stars, such as Gator, Tony Hawk, and Lance Mountain. (Julianne Shepherd) Hollywood Theatre

* Strangers on a Train
Two men meet on a train and jokingly concoct a plan to each murder a person from the other's life. For Bruno it's his father, for Guy it's his ex-wife, and because the two men are strangers they figure they'll be free from suspicion. Trouble arises, however, when Bruno takes the plan seriously and decides to act. A Hitchcock suspense classic. Cinema 21

Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatjana
Hitting the highway in their Soviet-built Volga, two men set off full of themselves and ready for a little adventure. But when they find it--in the form, per usual--of two women, they balk. Director Aki Kaurismaki (Finland's answer to John Waters) deadpan riff both idolizes and mocks the road trip genre. Guild Theater

Teknolust See review this issue. Cinema 21

Texas Chainsaw Massacre
It's obvious the filmmakers intention was to maintain the feel of the original TCM--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) Avalon

* This Thing of Ours
A mobster movie that involves the internet! A young gangster, Nick, seeks to earn his stripes by concocting a scheme to skim money off global online bank transfers, but he needs $50,000 to get it rolling. He turns to the higher ups in the organization, who are reluctant to move into the cyber age, but eventually give in. And once the money starts rolling in, of course, the big dogs want it all for themselves. Hollywood Theatre

Timeline, the latest product from the Michael Crichton franchise Books for the Screen Inc., follows a group of nerdy archeologists as they travel back in time to save their leader, who has been stranded in 14th-Century France just as the Frenchies are waging bitter feudal war against the English. No, this ridiculous scenario can't be plausibly explained, but Timeline sure tries, concocting a typical blend of mad scientists and wormholes with so many logical plot holes it could drive the physicist in you nuts. (Justin Westcoat Sanders) Regal Cinemas

Total Balalaika Show
After two satrical movies about Leningrad Cowboys, the "world's worst rock and roll band," Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki had actually created a band that people genuinely wanted to see. This is a goofy film about a concert hosted by the Leningrad Cowboys. Guild Theater

Tupac: Resurrection
The success of the documentary Tupac Resurrection, which attempts to do nothing less than produce a saint from MTV videos, news reports, and intimate interviews, is that it focuses less on his music and more on his actual life--his childhood in New York, his teens in Baltimore, his early 20s in the Bay Area, and, finally, the transformation of this ordinary life into a pop life. Narrated by Tupac himself, as if from the grave ("I always knew I was gonna be shot"), the most important revelation the documentary has to offer is that Tupac was not a thug to begin with, but something of a geek who took ballet lessons, read Shakespeare, and wrote poetry in notebooks. (Charles Mudede) Lloyd Mall, Movies on TV

Under the Tuscan Sun
Under the Tuscan Sun finds Diane Lane luminous as Frances Mayes, a San Francisco writer who gets totally reamed in a messy divorce and hops a plane to Italy, when single life in the city becomes unbearable. She stumbles across Bramasole, a dilapidated villa in the country that becomes her home. In Tuscany, she finds love, empowerment, and humility. Plus some hot Italian guys! Be fooled not, however; the tone of Tuscan is light as frothed milk, with numerous cultural inaccuracies and beige gloss-overs of life abroad, a reality pureed for easier enjoyment. Too bad life abroad isn't all amazing vistas and music-queued montage, but then again this is pure fantasy. The film is enjoyable--if not entirely forgettable--if you just let it wash over you, like a sunny day. (Brian Brait) Koin Center

Who Killed Jessie?
Long before we even wondered "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," Czech director Vaclav Vorlicek put together a mind-bending episode of ordinary mortals interfacing with va-va-voom cartoon babes. Here, the world of an unhappy mad scientist couple is suddenly rocked when the domineering wife experiments with her husband and his subconsciousness. Using a serum, she brings to life his fantasies, mostly involving a curvy and scantily-clad cartoon babe. Whitsell Auditorium

* Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
It's your standard story: Boy meets Chocolate Baron, Boy offends Chocolate Baron, Boy inherits Chocolate Factory. But there's also the part where the Chocolate Baron systematically murders a group of ill-mannered children. And there are also the songs! Pix Patisserie