Portland int. film festival
20 Centimeters (Spain)
An amalgamation of Hedwig and the Angry Inch and the films of Pedro Almodóvar, this Euro-pop flavored musical is satisfying, if only because the characters have a depth not achieved in recent American musicals. (Mike Filtz)
Clearcut: The Story of Philomath, Oregon (US)
Logging tycoon Rex Clemens set up the Clemens Foundation in 1959, which ensured that every high school graduate of Philomath, OR, would have their college tuition paid for. Clearcut is about those now in charge of that Clemens Foundation, a group of Bible-thumping bigots who waged war against a "politically correct" school superintendent, threatening to pull the scholarships if he wasn't fired. (Justin Sanders)
Cowboy del Amor (US)
"Cowboy Cupid" Ivan Thomson finds Mexican brides for American men.
Mia returns to her tiny hometown and is quickly caught up in "arguments, entanglements, and inebriated indiscretions."
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Romania)
A drunk old man in Romania calls for medical aid, and in an all-night-long odyssey, a paramedic ends up taking Mr. Lazarescu to every hospital in Bucharest. Cue poor lighting, shaky camera work, and subtitles. (Amy Jenniges)
Devil & Daniel Johnston (US)
Of all the unsung, outsider geniuses in rock, few are more deserving of a lovingly crafted tribute than the absurdly brilliant Daniel Johnston. (Zac Pennington)
Dreaming of Space (Russia)
A film set in Russia in the late '50s, after the launch of the first Soviet satellite.
FINAL DESTINATION 3
In the vein of voluminous classics such as Hellraiser and Wishmaster, Final Destination 3 rides on a lame plot to demonstrate nothing but creative ways to die. In 2000, the first Final Destination—which had Death going after a bunch of teens, just as this one does—blew us away with its unabashed willingness to push the limits of the R-rating for a teen-targeted film. Well, FD3 makes FD look like an episode of Full House. I made the mistake of buying nachos beforehand, and they ended up floating somewhere in my esophagus in a cheesy pool of bile—this shit was groooooss. I am never (a) getting on a rollercoaster, (b) going tanning, or (c) going near fireworks and/or horses EVER AGAIN. (Jenna Roadman)
Forest for the Trees (Germany)
A woman heads out for a teaching job in the big city, only to alienate all of her prospective friends.
Giant Buddhas (Switzerland)
When the Taliban ordered the demolition of all non-Islamic icons in Afghanistan, two ancient Buddha statues were among them. This doc's credibility is siphoned away by a narrator who's not only biased, but—worse—fatally cheesy. (Will Gardner)
Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Impassioned Eye (Switzerland)
A really boring film about a really fascinating photographer. (Chas Bowie)
Iron Island (Iran)
A look at a group of families living on an abandoned ship in the Persian Gulf—and a "biting commentary on the role of Iran's mullahs."
Live and Become (France/Israel)
A story about one non-Jewish boy's survival in the Ethiopian famine in the '80s.
Look Both Ways (Australia)
Four young people's lives are intertwined by poignantly mortal experiences. Subtle and quietly brilliant, this film is an honest and noble snapshot of human experience. (Marjorie Skinner)
Lower City (Brazil)
Two petty criminals encounter a young hooker.
Max and Joseph: Double Trouble (Sweden)
An eight-year-old boy takes bad advice from a turtle.
Merry Christmas (FRANCE)
A French movie even your dad could sit through. (Zac Pennington)
Mutual Appreciation (US)
A "lo-fi, black and white, comically laid-back film" about a young slacker musician.
News from Afar (Mexico)
This Mexican film follows the oldest son, Martín, of a family who moved to a small, rural community in search of a better life. A well done film, but a thorough bummer. (Marjorie Skinner)
My Nikifor (Poland)
My Nikifor tells the story of folk artist Nikifor, a crusty, tubercular beggar who becomes one of Poland's most beloved art icons. (Adam Gnade)
A vibrant Bollywood production set in traditional times of Rajasthan. (Marjorie Skinner)
The Proposition (Australia)
A grisly, fly-infested nightmare of violence and revenge. While The Proposition may be a searing indictment of colonial Britain, do we really need another searing indictment of colonial Britain? (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
A small-town Ukrainian con artist devises a slick scheme to take advantage of tourists.
Rolling Family (ARGENTINA)
An expansive family takes a road trip in a tiny mobile home; while there are small dramas strung throughout, most of the film simply observes them in the heat and close quarters. (Marjorie Skinner)
Sisters In Law (Great Britain)
A film about a prosecutor and court president in Cameroon who stand up for the female victims of family abuse.
Short Cuts I: International Ties
Nine short films from all over the world.
Skrítek (Czech Republic)
In this tiny, glittering ruby of a silent film, a Czech family crashes through their lives Keystone Cops-style, careening from infidelity to drug abuse to slapstick vulgarity. (Adam Gnade)
Sophie Scholl—The Final Days (Germany)
In 1943, 21-year-old Sophie Scholl was guillotined by the Nazi government. Scholl's story is powerful and inspirational enough to transcend this film's schlocky packaging. (Alison Hallett)
A "dramatic comedy" that intertwines five stories.
To the Other Side (Mexico)
The stories of a Mexican boy, a Moroccan girl, and a Cuban boy are woven together in this film about immigration and fatherless children.
Tsotsi (South Africa)
Tsotsi unfolds a plot about the amoral title character who carjacks a Beamer that has a newborn in the backseat. Tsotsi keeps the baby—it's practically his only possession, and learns to open his heart a little bit. (Chas Bowie)
Wah Wah (Great Britain)
A coming-of-age story that happens to echo the historical events of the end of the British Empire.
The Wild Blue Yonder (US/Germany)
There's a lot to like in Werner Herzog's "science fiction fantasy." There's also a surplus of at least 30 minutes of fluffed, repetitive footage. (Erik Henriksen)
Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt
A beautifully complex portrait of Townes Van Zandt, who wrote some of the most heartbreak-y flower child/alt-cowboy songs ever recorded. (Chas Bowie)
An animated adaptation of the children's books.
Final Destination 3
Hit portlandmercury.com on Friday for our film short.
Jackass: The Movie
See My, What a Busy Week! on pg. 11.
Through the Fire
Director Jonathan Hock follows hot shit high school basketball star Sebastian Telfair from the projects of Coney Island to being picked up by the Blazers in the 2004 draft. But rather than portraying Telfair as a scrappy underdog fighting his way to the top, the story focuses on Telfair's seduction by colleges, sneaker companies, the media, and the NBA—and how his family and community is seduced as well. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)