9/11: In Plane Site should have been a fun, Fox Mulder-y conspiracy diatribe--it features both an exceedingly annoying crackpot theorist and outlandish, unsubstantiated allegations about blurrily pixelized photos that don't really show anything. But there's something still very raw and powerful about the imagery from 9/11 that Plane Site so gleefully throws around in its half-assed allegations that 9/11 was a staged event, and the role that the film ultimately fills is that of the cheapest, most unintelligent form of cashing-in on the day it so poorly tries to redefine. On the upside, it's screening with the half-hour Soldier's Pay, a heart-wrenchingly strong documentary directed by David O. Russell, Tricia Regan, and Juan Carlos Zaldvar about the current Iraq situation, often viewed through a disconcerting lens of the same themes Russell tackled in Three Kings (Russell actually intended the doc to be part of a re-released Kings DVD, which Warner Bros. balked at). It's almost--but not quite--worth sitting through Plane Site to get to Soldier's Pay, but a far better idea might be to wait for the Uncovered: The War In Iraq DVD and check out Russell's short film there, where it'll be presented as an extra feature. (Erik Henriksen) Clinton Street Theater
* Ballot Measure Nine
Not only did this film win the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival, but this documentary about 1992's scary anti-homo ballot measure is currently being eerily re-enacted as we speak--via the scary anti-homo Measure 36--so it makes sense that it's screening as a benefit for the No on 36 folks. Clinton Street Theater
Books Not Bars
A documentary on "the growth of the United States' industrial prison complex." This film may or may not contain some shivving. Main Library, US Bank Room
* Buffalo Bill's Defunct
Crotchety, curmudgeonly Grandpa Bill (Earl V. Prebezac) leads his goofy brood not in raising a barn, but tearing down a garage. Seattle director Matt Wilkins' largely improvised feature is somewhat untraditional in structure, but it feels keenly real in its graceful and humorous sketches on family relationships. (Shannon Gee) Whitsell Auditorium
A nerd buys a car... an evil car that loves to kill! Just goes to show that nerds shouldn't buy cars. Laurelhurst
* DiG! See review this issue. Cinema 21
* A Dirty Shame
John Waters uses his usual subtlety and nuance to take on the world of sex addiction. If you're a Waters fan, you won't be disappointed. If you're not, well... you've been warned. (Michael Svoboda) Fox Tower 10
Exorcist: The Beginning
No, nobody masturbates with a crucifix in this movie. (Lance Chess) Avalon, Edgefield
Feminist Film Series
Serving as the end of chastity as we know (or knew) it, the development of the oral contraceptive sent this country into an uncontrolled spiral toward Gomorrah--turning pious young women into raging she-devils and god-fearing young men into sex-crazed bohemians. Celebrate the downfall of Western civilization with the video documentary The Pill. PSU Smith Memorial Union
Julianne Moore plays Telly, a woman who can't get over her young son's sudden disappearance--especially when everyone around her starts telling her that her son never existed. Faced with being put in an institution, J.MO starts running. She runs through the streets of New York, through airplane hangers, through dream sequences, and through this bland, convoluted mess that's more of a recycled X-Files episode than a feature film. (Michael Svoboda) Regal Cinemas, etc.
* Friday Night Lights
With a good deal of trepidation, I went to Friday Night Lights expecting a cleaned-up, Disneyfied version of H.G. Bissinger's excellent book about high school football in a suckass Texas town. But as directed by Peter Berg, the film is just as compelling; instead of being what could have been a dorky, feel-good film, Friday Night Lights instead revels in its rough 'n' tumble narrative. (Phil Busse) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Gadabout Traveling Film Festival
A slew of independent and experimental films with live music by power-poppers the Kiss Ups. The Know
* Garden State
First time writer/director Zach Braff plays Andrew "Large" Largeman, a struggling L.A. actor who returns to his New Jersey home for his paraplegic mother's funeral. Fox Tower 10, Lake Twin Cinema, Lloyd Mall, Vancouver Plaza
Ghost In the Shell 2: Innocence
First, the good news: this may possibly be the best-looking anime film to date. Unfortunately, writer/director Mamoru Oshii allows the plot (a hulking cyborg cop faces off against a wave of murderous sexbots) to be overwhelmed by a slew of cockamamie musings on the nature of existence that wouldn't float in a late-night dorm room smokeout. From the retina out, Innocence is something close to a masterpiece. Between the ears, it's a different story. (Andrew Wright) Hollywood Theatre
* Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry
Although director George Butler has stated that he doesn't intend his latest documentary to be political propaganda, it's nearly impossible not to view Going Upriver as a persuasive advertisement for the moral and intellectual fiber of John Kerry. (Phil Busse) Now available for free download at www.thekerrymovie.com. Fox Tower 10
The Chinese martial arts drama Hero blows away everything else currently playing--and possibly any other film released this year. It's that good. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
* I ♥ Huckabees
Jason "That Kid From Rushmore" Schwartzman plays Albert Markovski, a hipster/hippie whose experience with strange coincidences inspires him to hire two "existential detectives" (Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin). A lackadaisically twisting, manically intellectual examination of any and all pop philosophic concepts follows, as enacted through a veritable all-star cast (most notably a perfectly cast Jude Law, plus Mark Wahlberg, who's at the top of his underestimated game). David O. Russell's script is at once contrived and organic, bearing its characters through the film like the best comedies and dramas--imperceptible in its mechanics, yet never timid. (Erik Henriksen) Pioneer Place Stadium 6
Set in Sweden, Christoffer (Ulrich Thomsen) must take over his father's steel company after the old man dies; in doing so, calm, kind, loving Christoffer becomes a real bastard who thinks little of others around him. Filmed in crisp digital video with an unobtrusive camera that's supposed to present a sense of realism, The Inheritance lacks the emotional foundation to justify those techniques, and ultimately feels superficial and, at times, silly. (M. William Helfrich) Hollywood Theatre
When a social worker (Megumi Okina) checks up on a family, she finds a house full of creaking noises and sinister shadows--and when she opens up a sealed closet, she unwittingly unleashes the vengeful spirits of a very disturbing little boy and his terrifying mother. Add a big black floating mass of pure evil hovering over people's beds, and you've got some seriously scary shit. (Confusing, yes... but definitely scary.) (Michael Svoboda) Laurelhurst
La Dolce Vita
If you don't swoon at least once during this classic from Federico Fellini, then you'd better check yourself for a pulse. With sumptuous visuals and a handsome cast (a young Marcello Mastroianni and hottie Anita Ekberg), this tale of a tabloid writer's decadence, temptation, and self-loathing regret is sure to ignite passion and sympathy. Fox Tower 10
The story of firefighter Jack Morrison (Joaquin Phoenix) is told through flashbacks as he reflects on his career... while, of course, trapped in a 20-story blaze. This TV movie-like film is far more concerned with squeezing tears from the audience than presenting any sort of realistic portrayal of the harried lives of firefighters. (Michael Svoboda) Regal Cinemas, etc.
* The Limey
Fading '60s icon Terence Stamp plays an unstoppable force of vengeance searching for the person responsible for killing his daughter. Fading '60s icon Peter Fonda plays a downwardly mobile record exec who used to date her. Director Steven Soderbergh expands on the style he began to explore in Out of Sight: the layering of visual flashbacks and flash-forwards grounded with dialogue. Whereas most filmmakers pad their films to two hours or more, this layering compresses what would normally be a two-hour movie into 90 action-packed minutes that keep moving and keep you thinking. (Andy Spletzer) Blind Onion
* The Lord of the Rings: THE Return of the King
If this is just a fantasy, director Peter Jackson seems to say, it's going to deliver on every level available. And it does. (Sean Nelson) Fifth Avenue Cinemas
Max Von Sydow stars in this Ingrid Bergman flick that the Northwest Film Center dubs "one of Bergman's esoteric masterworks" and a "thinking man's horror film." What--Bride of Chucky wasn't "esoteric" or "thinking man" enough for them? Whitsell Auditorium
A throwback to classic '70s and '80s horror films, complete with unsuspecting victims and a family of serial killers! Valley
Maria Full of Grace
There are a lot of reasons to appreciate Maria Full of Grace, not the least of which are its subtly beautiful cinematography and its impeccable performances. Unfortunately, the film--which follows a 17-year-old Columbian girl, Maria (Catalina Sandino Moreno), as she decides to become a "mule," ingesting pellets full of heroin and smuggling them into the U.S. --doesn't really have much to say, other than being a mule really sucks. Profound, that. (Erik Henriksen) Hollywood Theatre
Mean Creek opens with Sam (Culkin kid #0037, Rory) getting the shit kicked out of him by the school bully, George (Josh Peck). In response, Sam's older brother (Trevor Morgan) and his troubled friend (Scott Mechlowicz) hatch a plan for revenge. Director Jacob Aaron Estes treats his lame plot with such over-the-top somber reverence it's impossible to take it seriously. (Justin Sanders) Cinemagic
* The Motorcycle Diaries
Medical school friends (Rodrigo de la Serna and Gael Garcia Bernal) ride, push, and carry their motorcycle across Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and Peru, generally achieving the kind of good times/bad times adventure balance that all great road trip stories thrive on. After traveling thousands of miles, it's made clear just who Bernal's playing: Ernesto Guevara. (Justin Sanders) Fox Tower 10
* Napoleon Dynamite
There are plenty of laughs to mine from the pseudo-tortured lives of realistically nerdy, unpopular, and just plain odd 14- to 18-year-olds, and as Napoleon Dynamite proves, young geek alienation is just as fun to parody as its grownup counterparts. (Jennifer Maerz) Regal Cinemas, etc.
F. W. Murnau's truly frightening Nosferatu (1922), the first film adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Old Town Pizza
The Outlaw (1943)
Doc Holliday (Walter Huston) and Billy the Kid (Jack Buetel) team up in this classic western, which also features Jane Russell and a climactic attack by Indi--no, wait. Native Americans. Cafe Nola
* The Process 3
See My, What a Busy Week! page 27 Hollywood Theatre
Raise Your Voice
Not many movies can boast both a plot similar to Fame and a scene in which pop star HILARY DUFF KILLS HER BROTHER--therefore, we're blessed Raise Your Voice came along during our lifetimes. Hilary plays the adorable Terri, who sings like a goddamn songbird--yet her jerk father refuses to let her attend a posh L.A. performing arts high school. And while Terri's brother believes deeply in her talent, he gets KILLED BY A DRUNK DRIVER. Terri mourns by sneaking off to the school anyway. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Regal Cinemas, etc.
A documentary about 10 years in the lives of North Koreans who were arrested and imprisoned by South Korean authorities, and served 30 years as political prisoners for refusing to give up their belief in communism. Makes an excellent double feature with 1984's Red Dawn, in which Patrick Swayze teams up with midwestern teenagers to fight invading Russians. Guild Theater
* Riding Giants
This fascinating exploration of the culture of big-wave surfing by the director of the skateboarding documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys is distinguished first by the quality of its footage. It's a cliché to say that surfers live to surf, but after seeing this film, it's a lot easier to understand why. (Sean Nelson) Laurelhurst
S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine
A documentary about a visit to a high school--called "S21"--that served as a detention center for the Cambodian genocide. Almost 17,000 people were killed in S21; through interviews and confrontations, director Rithy Panha records what happened and how it affects survivors of the genocide. Makes an excellent double feature with Taxi. Guild Theater
Say Your Thing Video Collection See review this issue. Clinton Street Theater, Hollywood Theatre
Shall We Dance? See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
Following their Shrek formula, DreamWorks loads up Shark Tale with an all-star cast... but instead of utilizing it, the film uses puns--yep, puns--for its humor. The fish shop at "Old Wavy." They drink "Coral-Cola" and eat "Kelpy Kremes." They use "shell phones." I'll stop there, but the movie never does. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
* Shaun of the Dead
A sharp, clever, and gory horror-comedy that manages to be as scary as it is hilarious, Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg's Shaun of the Dead shows all the marks of becoming a classic (and yeah, I know that sounds clichéd--but in this case, it's actually true). (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
* Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
The year is 1939, and Jude Law is Joe "Sky Captain" Sullivan--an aerial ace called into action when gigantic, clanking robots invade downtown New York. He soon learns the robots are part of a larger plan involving the disappearance of world famous scientists--a case that's being investigated by Joe's former love, plucky reporter Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow). At its core, Sky Captain is a story of innocence and connection, as Joe and Polly reignite the flame of their former love--okay, while fighting 100-foot robots. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Regal Cinemas, etc.
The Spook Who Sat by the Door
The controversial film about the first black man to join the CIA--who uses his training and resources to build a guerilla army! Screened to benefit PDX Books for Prisoners. Liberty Hall
An ex-SNL star (Jimmy Fallon) hops in a tricked-out cab driven by an ex-hiphop star (Queen Latifah) and shouts "Quick! Take me to career obscurity!" Regal Cinemas, etc.
Team America: World Police See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
Thérèse: The Story of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
Thérèse's mom dies when she's a kid, then her surrogate mom abandons her, then she goes insane, and then, she falls in love with God. Whatever makes insanity more bearable.... City Center 12, Lloyd Cinemas
* The Trials of Henry Kissinger
By using old footage, declassified documents, and interviews with the directors attempt to prove Kissinger's guilt (both direct and by association) for the massacre of millions of civilians--in Cambodia, Vietnam, East Timor, and Chile. It's very BBC, but still fascinating. (Sean Nelson) PSU Smith Memorial Union
The Virgin Spring
This is either a XXX-rated Fort Lauderdale exposé or an Ingmar Bergman film about what the Northwest Film Center deems "the darkest corners of the human soul and the most elemental of emotions." Cross your fingers for the former. Whitsell Auditorium
* War Games
A young, adorable Matthew Broderick thinks he's playing a videogame--but he's really starting WWIII! Wackiness/global tension ensues, yet no one ever thinks to bring in the one guy who might be able to solve the fiasco--Ferris Bueller. Pix Patisserie
An aging, insular professor (Victor Sj-str-m) is forced to interact with the outside world, his estranged family, and his past. Whitsell Auditorium