PORTLAND WOMEN'S FILM FESTIVAL
See Film Feature for more info, and Found It! for show times. Many films from the fest weren't screened for press; below are three that were. For a complete rundown on the fest's films, see powfest.com. All films screen at the Hollywood Theatre.
While childlike animation sequences threaten to tip this whole doc into the heavy-handed realm, it's actually incredibly fascinating and disturbing to hear what Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath were like from a kid's perspective. These interviews are unnerving, and a reminder that kids really do say the most fucked-up things. "I feel better when I'm not awake thinking about things," says one kid; another little girl plays "Katrina" by drowning Barbies in her bathtub. ALISON HALLETT
H THE SHADOW WITHIN
Lo and behold, the Italian-made supernatural thriller
The Shadow Within is darn good. (I don't get to say stuff like that very often, so excuse my incredulity). Bubbling over with high production values, a great cast, and spooky-as-fuck ambiance, this film stars Kate Winslet's sister Beth (who might be even hotter than her older sis) as Dr. Prevost, who becomes curious about the mysterious Dumont family. Young Maurice Dumont's overbearing mother besets the boy to psychically communicate with and embody his dead twin brother. (Apparently Mommy likes the dead 'un better.) When a bunch of black-clad biddies persuade Mrs. Dumont to help them communicate with their own dead children, things get real dicey, real fast. COURTNEY FERGUSON
Hector Salgado was exiled from Chile during the military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, after being imprisoned, tortured, and witnessing the deaths of his friends. When he returns to Chile to find and confront the people responsible, he runs into conflicts between those who think the past should stay buried, and his own need to find out the truth about his experiences. ALISON HALLETT
The best—actually, the only—word I can think of to describe Baby Mama is "cute," which is kind of good and kind of bad. Let's focus on the good first: Baby Mama is the sort of "cute" that's perfectly enjoyable, comfortingly predictable, and fairly entertaining. But Baby Mama is also the sort of "cute" that's totally disposable and largely forgettable and doomed to inevitably start rerunning on the Oxygen channel in a year or two, and its stars, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, deserve to be in far better movies than ones like this. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Bonnie and Clyde
1967's bank robbin' flick, with Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. Living Room Theaters.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
The latest in that unfortunate Narnia business; expect adorable talking animals and awkward Christian allegory. Prince Caspian wasn't screened in time for press, but hit portlandmercury.com on Friday, May 16 for our review. Various Theaters.
A film based on the "supernatural action-mystery manga." Not screened for critics. Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing.
The Dhamma Brothers
See review. Hollywood Theatre.
The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser
Herzog's 1974 film follows the true story of Kaspar Hauser (played by Bruno S.), a teenager who, in 1828, mysteriously appeared in Nuremberg—unable to talk, carrying a Bible, with one hell of a creeeeepy backstory. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
The Lady in the Radiator. The baby. Jack Nance. His awesome hair. The spookiest sounds ever committed to celluloid. Eraserhead! Over 30 years of cult-y goodness and a new 35mm print makes this David Lynch screening the best movie bet this week. It makes me feel like squishing oozy sperm things and singing, "In heaven/everything is fine/You've got your good things/and I've got mine." COURTNEY FERGUSON Clinton Street Theater.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
"Few people understand the psychology of dealing with a highway traffic cop. A normal speeder will panic and immediately pull over to the side. This is wrong. It arouses contempt in the cop heart. Make the bastard chase you. He will follow. But he won't know what to make of your blinker signal that says you are about to turn right. This is to let him know you're pulling off for a proper place to talk. It will take him a moment to realize that he's about to make a 180 degree turn at speed, but you will be ready for it. Brace for the Gs, and fast heel-toe work." Broadway Metroplex.
The Flight of the Red Balloon
Albert Lamorisse's The Red Balloon is a charming little story about a boy and the red balloon that follows him around like a pet dog. It is delightful. It is 34 minutes long. The Flight of the Red Balloon is an homage to that 1956 classic, about a young boy and his babysitter and the red balloon that bobs into their lives. Running time? One hundred and thirteen minutes. That is approximately 79 minutes too long. Juliette Binoche is lively and unhinged as a single mom working as a puppeteer, and director Hsiao-hsien Hou's camera gives an intimate, street-level portrait of Paris, but the film is meandering and unfocused. No matter how many times you remind yourself that the balloon symbolizes "wonder," it's still awfully hard to focus on this dull film. ALISON HALLETT Hollywood Theatre.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Even if the Judd Apatow-produced Forgetting Sarah Marshall leans too heavily on what's rapidly becoming an Apatow formula (loveable-but-goofy everyman hooks up, then grows up), there's still enough charm in the process for it to work. Between its killer one-liners ("When life gives you lemons, just say, 'Fuck the lemons!' and bail!"), sharp and clever comedy, and likeable characters, Sarah Marshall's a worthy addition to the Apatow canon. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
For 13 straight summers, Timothy Treadwell really did go up and camp out in Alaska's Grizzly Maze, home to thousands of burly, wild grizzly bears. At close range, Treadwell really did coo baby talk at these vicious, hungry creatures, and he really did stroke their fur with his bare hands. And in October of 2003, Treadwell and his girlfriend, Amie Huguenard, really were killed and eaten by a grizzly bear. For Grizzly Man, Werner Herzog dug into more than 100 hours of film footage that Treadwell shot while living among the bears—footage that is frequently hilarious, occasionally profound, and sometimes terrifying. JUSTIN W. SANDERS Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay
The laudable raison d'être of this Harold & Kumar, as was the case with 2004's Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, is to offer up plenty of jokes about getting high, getting laid, and farting—but while White Castle hung those jokes on the ramshackle framework of college hijinks (a trip to a burger joint goes awry), Guantanamo Bay hangs them on what might as well be a synopsis of an episode of MacNeil/Lehrer. Guantanamo Bay is certainly funny, and the fact it's also pretty clever shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who saw the first film. But what is kind of surprising—and more than welcome—is that Guantanamo Bay seems to be doing two things: On one hand, it's a dumb slapstick comedy, gleefully satisfied with exploiting the lowest common denominator, but on the other—and I realize how ridiculous this sounds—the film's fully willing to mine Americans' current political and social disenfranchisement for laughs, happily riffing on the hypocrisy of elected officials, America's stellar record of human rights, the racist incompetence of Homeland Security, and, perhaps most damningly, the befuddled complacency of the American people. When this sort of angry, ridiculous stuff has seeped into even our stoner comedies (the laughs at the screening I attended were equally enthusiastic for jokes about both airplane security and blumpkins), there's something kind of amazing going on. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Heart of Glass
Heart of Glass is the story of a sleepy German hamlet trying to recover the lost technique for making "ruby glass," a red glass which was once made in the town glass factory. Herzog's experimentation as an auteur was partially formed in the filming of Heart of Glass: He cast a group of non-professional actors and hypnotized all of them in order to convey the dream-like quality he sought for the production. Weird and ethereal, Heart of Glass is the third type of Herzog film—one that's neither a documentary nor a vehicle for Klaus Kinski's tangled ego. LANCE CHESS Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
In the Heat of the Night
Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger star in the 1967 classic. It's Mr. Tibbs, by the way. Laurelhurst.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Opens Thursday, May 22, at which point our review will be available in next week's Mercury and at portlandmercury.com.
Here's the deal: Billionaire playboy Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr., awesome as usual) invents high-tech weapons and sells them to the US Army. But when he's unexpectedly captured by the Taliba—er, some generic, eeeeevil Middle Easterners who just so happen to hide out in caves in Afghanistan—Stark builds himself an armored suit and escapes. Soon, he has the familiar realization that with great power comes great responsibility, and within no time, he's zooming around in his flying tank suit, making wiseass comments and beating up evildoers. Light and fun and loud, Iron Man often feels just like the best, poppiest superhero comics. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
"An evening of experimental film, music, food, and conversation" brought to you by the Cinema Project, with musical guests Evolutionary Jass Band. More info: cinemaproject.org and thebackroompdx.com.
Jesse Lerner: Excavations of Mexico
See Art Feature. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium
Lost Film Fest
"A traveling multimedia spectacle" of "live performance and rare short films." More info: lostfilmfest.com. Disjecta.
Made of Honor
Tom (the charmingly broken-nosed Patrick Dempsey, from Grey's Anatomy) is super-duper rich and doesn't even have to work (he invented coffee cup sleeves!). Tom gets laid constantly, with beautiful women circling him like horny sharks—it's kind of annoying, really. Meanwhile, Tom's platonic best friend, Hannah (Michelle Monaghan), goes on a business trip to Scotland, and in her absence Tom realizes he's in love with her—a realization that's a bit dampened when she returns with a Scottish fiancé, Colin (Kevin McKidd), who is even wealthier, bigger, stronger, etc. What follows is a competent enough romcom goose chase in which Tom, who's been emasculated in his gender-defying role as the wedding's "maid of honor," attempts to steal the bride for himself.About half of the film takes place in New York, and the other half in the gorgeous Scottish countryside. This backdrop is one of the only distinguishing things about this cute but disposable movie—but when you're dealing in candy pap like this, a single spin on the formula is all you really need to earn a pass. MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters.
My Blueberry Nights
The prospect of an English language film from Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai (Chungking Express, In the Mood for Love) is an exciting one, and it's made more intriguing by his decision to cast Norah Jones, in her first acting role, as the lead. And while it's interesting to see the director's distinctive visual style turned to the US, the roundabout, unrewarding My Blueberry Nights nonetheless falls far short of expectations. ALISON HALLETT Hollywood Theatre.
OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies
See review. Cinema 21.
Nicolas Roeg and Donald Cammell's 1970 art film, featuring Mick Jagger. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
It's an unlikely place to find a kung fu movie: Redbelt is written and directed by revered playwright/filmmaker David Mamet, shot by There Will Be Blood's Oscar-winning cinematographer Robert Elswit, and features a cast so impressive that the film's opening credits feel sort of braggy: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Joe Mantegna, Emily Mortimer, David Paymer (and, uh, Tim Allen?). But all the same, the ghosts of the Shaw Brothers haunt this tale of Mike Terry (Ejiofor, awesome as usual), a painfully noble Los Angeles jiu-jitsu instructor who, through a series of increasingly unlikely occurrences, gets sucked into a world of sketchy movie producers and unethical mixed martial arts fighters. Like every kung fu movie, Redbelt follows the familiar template of a fighter with honor finding/beating his way through a mass of those without it, and also like most films in that genre, Redbelt's villains are a simplistically evil lot. Those other characters are where Redbelt starts to get creaky, actually: While much of the film focuses on the troubled, earnest Mike, things fall apart when Mamet brings in a slew of less interesting characters, forcing everyone together with increasingly strained plot devices. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Saturday Morning Cartoon Extravaganza
A whole bunch of cartoons. Plus: cold cereal! The Waypost.
Solving Illegal Immigration: The Truth is Out There
A documentary about illegal immigration, with director Mike Shiley in attendance to lead an audience discussion. As of press time, it is unknown whether Mulder and Scully will also attend, though Cigarette Smoking Man will totally be there. That black-lunged son of a bitch is everywhere. Hotel deLuxe.
Son of Rambow
Despite the fact it's directed by Garth Jennings—the same guy who helmed the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy adaptation a few years back—Son of Rambow is nothing at all like Hitchhiker's. (They don't mention Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters once!) Instead, Rambow is about two young boys and the remake of Rambo that they put together during an idyllic English summer (is there any other kind?). The boys are Lee Carter (Will Poulter), a neglected bad boy with a majorly dickish older brother (who's played by Chuck from Gossip Girl! Eeeee!), and Will (Bill Milner), the sensitive, sheltered one living in a repressed Amish-ish community. Will's not allowed to watch TV or see movies, so he's cast out of the classroom and forced to sit in the hallway next to a goldfish whenever a movie is played, while Lee is also often cast out into the hallway for things like, oh, I don't know—maybe punching girls in the face and an unfortunate incident of fish murder. Anyway, the boys end up bonding in front of the dean's office and becoming instant best friends, and what follows is a sweet, funny, and romantic film about two boys remaking the original Rambo in its entirety. KIALA KAZEBEE Fox Tower 10.
When Speed Racer ends and you walk out of the theater, you realize something: The real world looks like shit. Bland and blurry and gray and drab and dirty, actual existence is the exact opposite of the world that the Wachowski Brothers have created in their latest film—a place that's so hyperkinetic, hyperactive, and hypercolored that once you see it, it's impossible not to get caught up in it, and captivated by it, and turned into a drooling, blank-eyed idiot. Speed Racer might not be much more than a visually mind-blowing sugar rush, but goddamn, I kind of love it. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
What Happens in Vegas...
The absurdity at hand is that opposites Jack (Ashton Kutcher, not as funny as expected) and Joy (Cameron Diaz, looking like a piece of beef jerky wearing lip gloss—when did that happen?!) and their much-abused sidekicks, Hater (Rob Corddry, who is persecuted for premature hair loss) and Tipper (Lake Bell, who goes undefended when summarized as "kind of a disgusting skank") all meet up in Vegas. Everyone gets hammered, and Joy and Jack wake up married, and then they accidentally hit the jackpot on a slot machine while discussing their annulment, and THEN they're sentenced by a highly partial judge to six months of marriage in order to recover the funds! Would it spoil anything if I told you they ended up falling in love? MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters.