The Portland International Film Festival runs from Thursday February 5 to Saturday, February 21. For more info, see Feature and nwfilm.org/piff32.

As Simple As That (Iran)

A drama about a put-upon Iranian housewife. Broadway Metroplex.

The Baader Meinhof Complex (Germany)

See Feature. Broadway Metroplex, Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.

The Black Balloon (Australia)

Thomas (Rhys Wakefield) is an adorable Australian high schooler with a crush on a popular, leggy blonde; his brother Charlie (Luke Ford) is severely autistic and fond of trouserless jogs around the neighborhood. If you like your trashy teen romances with a moral core, this one's for you. ALISON HALLETT Broadway Metroplex.

Blind Sunflowers (Spain)

A drama set after the Spanish Civil War. Broadway Metroplex.

Burned Hearts (Morocco)

A black-and-white drama about a young architect returning home in Morocco. Broadway Metroplex.

Captain Abu Raed (Jordan)

A lonely airport janitor finds a pilot's cap and immediately begins telling children outrageous falsehoods about his past experiences. Broadway Metroplex.

The Chaser (South Korea)

THIS IS NOT A MOVIE ABOUT A QUIDDITCH PLAYER. This "violently graphic thriller" focuses on a "cop-turned-pimp" as he hunts down missing prostitutes. LEAVE YOUR CHILD AT HOME. Broadway Metroplex.

Coraline (US)

See Feature. Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

The Country Teacher (Czech Republic)

A gay schoolteacher from Prague moves to a rural town. Broadway Metroplex.

Dunya and Desi (Netherlands)

A teen drama centered around 18-year-old best friends, Dunya and Desi deals with culture clash and teen pregnancy in the exotic locales of Holland and Morocco. That you can screw up a formula like this is surprising news to me, but the film is more stubborn than one of its camel extras when it comes to going anywhere fast. MARJORIE SKINNER Broadway Metroplex.

Eldorado (Beligium)

See Feature. Broadway Metroplex, Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.

Empty Nest (Argentina)

Alas, this is not the long-awaited feature film version of the Golden Girls spinoff. Thanks for nothing, Argentina. Broadway Metroplex.

The English Surgeon (Great Britain)

If you can stomach the graphic surgery footage, The English Surgeon is an interesting portrait of London-based neurosurgeon Henry Marsh. Marsh—who is something of a ham in front of the camera—travels regularly to Kiev to treat Ukrainian patients whose problems have been neglected or misdiagnosed, making difficult determinations about which conditions are worth operating on, and often wrestling with the cruel reality that sometimes there's just nothing that can be done. MARJORIE SKINNER. Broadway Metroplex.

Everlasting Moments (Sweden)

Sepia tones and a prim piano-and-strings soundtrack make it hard to engage fully with Everlasting Moments' historical fiction, about an unhappily married woman who derives comfort from her camera. ALISON HALLETT Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.

Gomorrah (Italy)

See Feature. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.

Hunger (Great Britain)

The first film from video artist Steve McQueen (no, not that one), Hunger is basically the brutal equivalent of watching an Irish version of the Holocaust. Set in a Belfast prison where Irish political prisoners were held, the film details the horrors they suffered at the hands of the guards and inflicted upon themselves in protest of their treatment. If you can handle watching people get beaten, shit being painted on walls, and men starving to death, you'll find Hunger a sparse, affecting, and beautifully filmed work. COURTNEY FERGUSON Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.

King of Ping Pong (Sweden)

See Feature. Broadway Metroplex.

Loose Rope (Iran)

One more movie about two young men who are tasked with taking a cow to Tehran. Broadway Metroplex.

Mermaid (Russia)

Combining fantasy elements with a gritty and sexy portrayal of contemporary Moscow, Mermaid deals with depression, isolation, and their opposites in the big city, and is as slick and economically written a rendering of such themes as you'll see in any language. I'd see it four, possibly 10 times. MATT DAVIS Broadway Metroplex.

Modern Life (France)

A "portrait of the changing face of life in rural France." Broadway Metroplex, Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.

Moscow, Belgium (Belgium)

A romcom about "two misfits faced with each others' messed-up lives." Broadway Metroplex.

Necessities of Life (Canada)

An Inuit hunter makes friends with an orphan in a sanitarium; shenanigans ensue. Broadway Metroplex.

Of Time and the City (Great Britain)

While fan-critics of director Terence Davies' past work (The House of Mirth, most notably) seem eager to welcome him back to the silver screen after a seven-year hiatus, they appear to be meeting him more than halfway. Of Time and the City is a grumpy documentary scrapbook of Liverpool, where Davies grew up, and it's not terribly helpful that Davies' griping voiceover is more embittered than expository. He frequently drops dry science on the audience with quotes from Engles, DeKooning, and more, all atop footage of kids playing in the slums, complaints about the Beatles, grumbles about the monarchy... can't we find someone else to show us around this town? MARJORIE SKINNER Broadway Metroplex.

O'Horten (Norway)

The humor in O'Horten is so understated that it constantly seems in danger of slipping away entirely, as though wistful quirkiness could give way to loneliness at any moment. But it never quite does, and this quiet film about the aimless adventures of a just-retired engineer promises to be one of the highlights of the festival. ALISON HALLETT Broadway Metroplex, Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.

Opium War (Afghanistan)

Two American soldiers crash in Taliban-controlled territory in Afghanistan. Starring Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott. Broadway Metroplex.

Paper Cannot Wrap Up Embers (Cambodia)

The whole family will enjoy this documentary about Cambodian prostitutes living in an abandoned building in Phnom Penh. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.

The Rest Is Silence (Romania)

A comedy that reimagines the making of Romania's first feature film. Broadway Metroplex.

Revanche (Austria)

An exquisite tale of fate, tragedy, and revenge, Revanche patiently examines the lives of a pair of strangers and how they fatefully intersect with each other. The film plays out like a tempered Austrian Cape Fear (Cape Führer?), told from the point of view of the Max Cady character. EZRA ACE CARAEFF Broadway Metroplex, Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.

Shall We Kiss? (France)

A romantic comedy that wasn't screened in time for press. Hit portlandmercury.com on Friday, February 6 for our review. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.

Short Cuts I: International Ties

From Sikumi, a bleak morality tale of murder among an Eskimo tribe, to Friends Forever, a melodramatic take on boyhood interrupted, the quality of the films in this program of international shorts varies. There's nothing too exciting here—but then, how often can you tell people you saw a film about a couple of Eskimos debating whether or not to cover up a murder? MATTHEW VOLLONO Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.

Short Cuts II: Oregon Made

An intriguing mix from local filmmakers in a variety of genres, this program reflects the diversity of film coming out of Oregon. The Lady Who Swallowed a Fly is a wickedly sly short about a soccer mom gone mad, while Nous Deux Encore features a woman recounting, in a beautifully written voiceover, the life she shared with her late husband. MATTHEW VOLLONO Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.

Snow (Bosnia)

A drama about post-war life in Bosnia. Broadway Metroplex.

The Song of Sparrows (Iran)

Karim (Reza Naji) is an impoverished, hapless grouch; on a visit to Tehran, he earns some spare cash using his motorbike as a taxi, and soon is able to provide his family with comforts. As in director Majid Majidi's previous film, The Willow Tree, this film's lyricism frequently lapses into tedium, and the film's perpetually dissatisfied protagonist gradually wears down the viewer's sympathies. NED LANNAMANN Broadway Metroplex.

Séraphine (France)

A drama about artist Séraphine Louis. Not screened in time for press; hit portlandmercury.com on Friday, February 6 for our review. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.

Tokyo Sonata (Japan)

A Japanese family unravels! Again, not screened in time for press; hit portlandmercury.com on Friday, February 6 for our review. Broadway Metroplex.

Treeless Mountain (US)

A six-year-old girl and her younger sister are forced to live with relatives in rural Korea. Broadway Metroplex.

Tricks (Poland)

A "warm, quirky drama [that] follows the daily lives of Stefek, a precocious six-year-old boy, and his teenage sister Elka during one magical summer in their small, provincial mining town." The preceding sentence is rage-inducing. Discuss. Broadway Metroplex.

Under the Bombs (Lebanon)

A "docu-fiction" thriller which utilizes both fiction and actual footage from the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Lebanon. See portlandmercury.com on Friday, February 6 for our review. Broadway Metroplex.

The Window (Argentina)

A "tender, nostalgic film about nature, memory, aging, and impending death." Christ, Argentina! First that Empty Nest bait-and-switch, and now this?! Broadway Metroplex.

Yellow House (Algeria)

A father goes on a quest to retrieve the body of his dead son, then finds his wife in a deep depression. :-( Broadway Metroplex.

Youssou Ndour: I Bring What I Love (US)

A doc about African musician Youssou Ndour. Broadway Metroplex, Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.


Now Playing

Battlestar Galactica: The Final Episodes

"I'M COMING FOR ALL OF YOU!" Bagdad Theater.

Classic Concerts: Prog Rock

King Crimson! Yes! Pink Floyd! Tull! Prog rock freakout!

Mission Theater.

Conan the Destroyer

"I suppose nothing hurts you." "Only pain." Laurelhurst Theater.


See review. Various theaters.


"Still making headlines all across the country, the Ghostbusters are at it again—this time at the fashionable dance club The Rose! The boys in gray slugged it out with a pretty pesky poltergeist, then stayed on to dance the night away with some of the lovely ladies who witnessed the disturbance!" Fifth Avenue Cinema.

Goth Cruise

Better in name than in concept, Goth Cruise is a documentary on, well, just that: Goths on a ship (sort of like Snakes on a Plane, but way worse). No matter how much you love the dark arts, or nautical adventures on the high seas, it's difficult to muster any interest in either of the film's subjects or the constant "Goths are really people, too!" moral. Goths, please stick to smoking cloves, idolizing Peter Murphy, and ruining Rocky Horror on a weekly basis. Director in attendance. EZRA ACE CARAEFF

Hollywood Theatre


Poppy (Sally Hawkins) is the kind of irrepressibly chipper person who attempts to start conversations with random strangers; when they act standoffish, she says things like, "I won't bite!" When her bicycle is stolen, she merely laments she didn't have a chance to say good-bye to it. In short, she's the kind of person who is so goddamn cheerful you'd like to smack her in the face. But something happens over the course of Happy-Go-Lucky: Poppy wins you over. Her happiness is something of a mystery; both her sisters are miserable, and her flatmate is snide and sarcastic. But Sally Hawkins' remarkable performance doesn't hit one false note. British director Mike Leigh improvises extensively with his actors before writing a script, and the film, as with all his work, feels spontaneous and true. NED LANNAMANN Laurelhurst Theater.

Harold and Maude

Harold and Maude—accompanied by a live performance of Cat Stevens' soundtrack, played by members of the March Fourth Marching Band, Solovox, and more.Hollywood Theatre

He's Just Not That Into You

See review. Various theaters.

Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison

See review. Clinton Street Theater.

Let the Right One In

This much-ballyhooed Scandinavian film is neither scary, teen angsty, nor spooky enough—but it is lovely, filled with austere, blue-hued snow and groves of haunting birch trees in the midst of Stockholm. And while Let the Right One In is by no means a poor entry in the vampire genre, it left me nearly as cold as the frozen landscapes, meting out little satisfaction on either a horror level or a character level. To be fair, the film doesn't pretend to scare you—it truly wants to succeed in an elegant, understated way, though it doesn't completely reach its goal. COURTNEY FERGUSON Various Theaters.

Life Is Sweet

Mike Leigh's 1991 comedy/drama revels in the day-to-day drabness of a London family. The twin daughters are annoying, but Timothy Spall's performance is particularly funny and Leigh's script is, as always, emotionally potent. NED LANNAMANN Living Room Theaters.


For a generation of gay and straight people who equate pride parades with binge drinking, whose gay heroes include Ellen DeGeneres and Anderson Cooper (he's gay, right?), and whose gay rights movement has just started, Gus Van Sant's fleshing out the story of gay politician and activist Harvey Milk (Sean Penn) in such a moving and humane way is as invaluable as the words Milk would bark through bullhorns. Sure, Van Sant can't resist putting in some treacly, melodramatic scenes that unfortunately stick out, but for the most part, Milk's story is simply real, which makes it that much more powerful and relevant. AMY J. RUIZ Various Theaters.

New in Town

The new year is already foisting its challenges on us in staggering array, begetting the hopeful expectation that the arts will serve as a refuge from our worries. That's how it's supposed to work, especially in the comfortably simple world of romantic comedy. Temporary escapism, fantasy, hope—these are the things we expect in exchange for our suspension of disbelief, our agreement not to over-analyze, and the (at least partial) relinquishment of cynicism when we sit willingly through a popcorn flick. That's a deal I'm in the mood to make with a movie. So it's maddening and sad that the vast resources of Hollywood seem incapable of delivering something that they could, and should, be easily doing really well right now. But timing's a bitch, and instead they've plopped out another pellet-turd vehicle for Renée Zellweger. MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters.

Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts

See review. Hollywood Theatre.

Oscar Nominated Live-Action Shorts

See review. Hollywood Theatre.

The Pink Panther 2

See review. Various Theaters.


A action thriller about how Dakota Fanning can move things with her MIND! Not screened in time for critics; see portlandmercury.com on Friday, February 6 for our review. Various Theaters.

Rachel Getting Married

Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt) is indeed getting married, but it's her sister, Kym (Anne Hathaway)—an ex-model, lifelong drug addict, and alcoholic who's been in and out of institutions since causing a family tragedy as a young teenager—who demands to be the center of attention. Jonathan Demme's latest is a difficult, sometimes tiresome film, but it's also emotionally ambitious, and it offers a modern portrait of family life that depends very little on convention. MARJORIE SKINNER Fox Tower 10, Hollywood Theatre.

The Reader

Kate Winslet is so dead set on winning an Oscar this year that she stacked the odds in her favor by virtue of sheer quantity. If Revolutionary Road doesn't do the trick, The Reader acts as a kind of B-string backup during this season of Extremely Weighty Filmmaking. But for all of its signifiers of substance (Hello again, Holocaust!), arty credibility (What up, Ralph Fiennes?), and Winslet's renunciation of Hollywood glamour in allowing herself to appear old and ugly, The Reader is at an odd, distant remove from its audience—failing to spark the emotional investment necessary to succeed. MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters.


For atheists accustomed to the one-way street of religious acceptance (on which I will respect your right to believe what you want to believe, and you will attempt to limit my access to birth control), there is something refreshing about Bill Maher's Religulous, in which the unflappably egomaniacal Maher travels the country interviewing people about their faith, in order to: (A) point out the errors of logic, fact, and history inherent to their worldview, and (B) make fun of them. Alas, the film suffers from two things: a lack of focus, and an abundance of Maher. ALISON HALLETT Laurelhurst Theater.

Revolutionary Road

Based on Richard Yates' 1961 novel, Revolutionary Road is a cautionary tale against getting stuck in the suburbs with only vague dreams to buoy you up. It's depressing, and I imagine that if you are actually stuck in the suburbs with only vague dreams to buoy you up, it might be the kind of movie that would make you go home and kill yourself. But for those of us that are lucky enough to have our whole lives ahead of us with no child or mortgage to hold us back, the film's darkness can more or less be shed like an old coat. LOGAN SACHON Various Theaters.

Slumdog Millionaire

A frantic, decade-spanning melodrama/romance/comedy, the latest from director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Sunshine) is nothing if not overwhelming. Sometimes Slumdog Millionaire feels crassly exploitative—like a guilt-inducing parade of everything terrible that impoverished children in peril have to endure—but often it's nothing short of fucking exhilarating, a pounding, pulsing, urgent rush that jumpstarts endorphins and adrenalin. There are scenes of torture and abuse and murder alongside giddy triumphs of comedy and heart (not to mention a Bollywood-inspired dance number), and as Slumdog careens along as both a harsh drama and a hammy crowd-pleaser, it's tempting to write it off as a bit of not-particularly-subtle manipulation. But ultimately, one realizes that Boyle deeply cares about these characters—and that sympathetic core is the reason why the film is consistently, utterly, beautifully gripping. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.


Taken is hampered by horrible foreshadowing and stiff, wooden dialogue that would be unbearable had it not been for the knowledge that once the chat stops, the splat starts. Thankfully, Liam Neeson spends the majority of Taken's 94 minutes cracking skulls, snapping necks, and shooting just about anyone that will stand still. As he gets closer to his kidnapped daughter, Neeson piles up the bodies of the stereotypical French, Albanian, and even Arab bad guys. It's like a big colorful rainbow of ethnicities, splattered in blood! EZRA ACE CARAEFF Various Theaters.

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans

Once again, feral werewolves and mopey vampires face off in an epic, bloody fight for supremacy! All are welcome to behold the massive battle! Well, almost all are welcome: While werewolves fear silver and vampires fear garlic, the one thing they both fear are film critics, as members of the press were kept far, far away from any advance screenings of this second(!) sequel to 2003 Various Theaters.

The Uninvited

It's a fool's errand to compare contemporary Hollywood remakes of foreign horror films to their source material, right? I mean firstly, it inevitably makes you look like some asshole stick-in-the-mud—like the sort of guy who gets all bent out of shape about how, "Oh, it was okay I guess, but nowhere near as good as the book." I mean really, what's the point? And even more so with foreign horror movies—except instead of surreptitiously bragging that you've read the book, all you're doing is illuminating the fact that you watch foreign horror movies, which is neither discerning nor intellectual, just dorky. You can't just sit there and enjoy the latest in the endless succession of Asia-to-Hollywood horror adaptations, can you? (In this case, a remake of the flawed but relatively winning Korean horror fairytale A Tale of Two Sisters, but starring white people, and bearing the name The Uninvited.) So why, then, for all of its obvious relative failures, do I sense that you actually kind of enjoyed The Uninvited? ZAC PENNINGTON Various theaters.

Voluptuous Biker Babes & Unforgettable

This pretty much sums it up: The press release for this dining extravaganza/porn viewing party contains both the phrase "all-you-can-eat buffet" and the word "lube." In the same sentence. The Village Ballroom.

Waltz with Bashir

During the current moment being enjoyed by the animated documentary genre (Chicago 10, Persepolis), Waltz with Bashir will stand as a landmark triumph. Already the recipient of numerous awards, including six Israeli Academy Awards, and a likely winner of the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, the glowing buzz that precedes director Ari Folman's dark, hallucinatory memoir of a tour of duty during the Lebanese Civil War is justifiable. MARJORIE SKINNER Fox Tower 10.

The Wrestler

My favorite scene in Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler features Mickey Rourke as washed-up wrestler Randy "The Ram" Robinson, complete with hearing aid and chest pains, dancing to Ratt's 1984 hair metal song "Round and Round" in a dive bar. Rourke tells a stripper, Cassidy (Marisa Tomei), how great the '80s were, snatches a kiss, and turns wistful. "And then that pussy Cobain came along and ruined everything," he says. Rourke's ability to evoke the exuberance of the '80s with the fragility of a man personifying that era's hung-over downsides undoubtedly accounts for the widespread acclaim he's been receiving for this role—it would have been easy for a lesser actor to ham his way through the part, but instead, Rourke plays him as a man too aware of the cost of having lived to entertain. MATT DAVIS Various Theaters.



The Cascade Festival of African Films runs through March 7. All screenings are free, and all take place at the Portland Community College Cascade Campus unless otherwise noted. Most films were not screened for critics. For more info, see africanfilmfestival.org.


A Nigerian love story.

Clouds over Conakry

With a mostly steady hand, Clouds over Conakry traverses the spiritual and generational divides in modern Guinea through the intersecting lives of two families. The conflicts are broad and clear, though at times, Conakry seems more a sign-of-the-times explanation for Westerners. ANDREW R TONRY

Death of Two Sons

A documentary about the death of Guinean immigrant Amadou Diallo, who was shot 41 times by the NYPD, and the death of Peace Corps volunteer Jesse Thyne, who worked with Diallo's family. Producer in attendance.


A doc about the world's oldest pan-African film festival. Director in attendance.

No Time to Die

A romantic comedy about a hearse driver!

Zaïna: Rider of the Atlas

An adventure drama set in 19th century Morocco. Kennedy School.



The Supertrash Marathon runs through February 8 at the Bagdad Theater. For more info, see mcmenamins.com.

The Blues Brothers

"The light was yellow, sir."

The Blues Brothers Concert

Footage of the faux musicians in concert, plus James Brown concert footage. Projected via DVD.

The Brain that Wouldn't Die

1962's sci-fi flick finds a mad scientist keeping his girlfriend's head alive after a car crash. Just so you know, there's a really easy blowjob joke here, but we're too classy to make it. Projected via DVD.

The Brood

David Cronenberg weirdness, circa 1979.

Cool World

Just like Who Framed Roger Rabbit, except if Who Framed Roger Rabbit was terrible.

Death Wish 3

Charles Bronson? BOOM! Automatic star!

Pink Floyd Concert

All the psychedelic/prog wankery you can handle! Projected via DVD.

True Romance

"We now return to Bullitt, already in progress."