Hey Filmmakers!

It's almost time for the Third Annual One Minute Film Festival, the always-fun, always-interesting fest that's—yep—made up of films that're a minute or less in length. C'mon. Anybody can make a film that's a minute or less in length, so get off your ass and hit telegrapharts.org for more info. Submissions must be postmarked by April 21.

Kung Fu!

The Northwest Film Center continues their screenings of the UCLA Film Archive's Heroic Grace: The Chinese Martial Arts Film, Part II. This week: The Jade Tiger, The New One-Armed Swordsman, Legedary Weapons of China, and the awesomely, awesomely named Dirty Ho. Awesome.

16 Blocks
Bruce Willis plays drunky, washed up cop Jack Mosley, who's supposed to transport petty thief Eddie (Mos Def) 16 blocks to the courthouse. That short trip turns into a long one when the two figure out that Eddie is the target of dirty cops who want to stop him from testifying. Though I wouldn't dare spoil the surprises to come, let's just say Jack has to put down the bottle and call forth some of the old stuff. 16 Blocks hearkens back to the great, gritty crime dramas of the '70s, and director Richard Donner captures that sweaty claustrophobia in a tight as a drum action flick that never disappoints. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) City Center 12

After Innocence
This spare, devastating documentary explores the predicament of a relatively small group of individuals—150 or so Americans—who have been released from long prison sentences after DNA evidence proved their innocence. In doing so, it raises provocative questions about justice and the very purpose of incarceration. It also provides a chilling (but not exactly unfamiliar) depiction of a powerful institution so obsessed with protecting its authority that it refuses to consider evidence that it might have erred. After Innocence proceeds primarily through sympathetic but nuanced portraits of exonerated men; wrapped around these stories is a case in Florida in which Wilton Dedge, a demonstrably innocent man, was held for three years after DNA evidence first came to light. Dedge's stuttering progress through the court system provides a narrative arc for the film, and is a stunning illustration of the way procedural hang-ups can strangle the administration of justice. (Annie Wagner) Hollywood Theatre

Yes, ATL is yet another teen-targeted, thinly veiled vehicle for a rapper-turned-actor. And yes, ATL predictably plays it by the numbers: You've got your drugs and violence subplots, the obligatory "wrong side of the tracks" love story, and even a dollop of class contention, all set to a heavingly brilliant soundtrack that plays like a central character. (Did I mention the fact that the main characters happen to be orphans? No, seriously.) And yet, for some reason, no volume of endless cliché can sink ATL. Effectively helmed by music video director Chris Robinson, ATL is a totally enjoyable celebration of the now familiar (read: heavily commodified) filth and flash of the Dirty South, staring likeably scrawny rapper Tip "T.I." Harris. And though it strays occasionally into mediocre attempts at teen melodrama, its overall lightness and distinctly Southern charm—weekends at the community pool, roller skating competitions, etc.—keep ATL from succumbing to the familiar failings of like-minded productions. The result is something akin to a PG-13 update of Saturday Night Fever—but this time with grills. (Zac Pennington) Regal Cinemas, etc

The Ballad of Little Jo
An "alternative western" based on a true story about a 19-year-old girl, Josephine, who becomes Jo, and "experiences the western life usually reserved for men." Director in attendance. Guild

Basic Instinct 2
Sharon Stone: Supreme Queen of the Cougars, a rapacious creature surviving off fumes from acrylic nail glue and calcium supplements. I imagine her gnashing and slashing her way through the competition at airport hotel bars and parties thrown by the Portland Monthly like a tsunami of emasculation and cracking visage. The IMDB shows that Stone's even set to star in an upcoming movie called Cougars; while that probably indicates a sense of humor in regard to her image as an off-puttingly sexually aggressive older woman, Basic Instinct 2 does nothing but enhance it, complete with frosted makeup, horrendously embarrassing sexual innuendos/sex scenes/sexy talk, and trying way too hard to still be sexy as her career-making Catherine "Did I or—LOOK AT MY PUSSY!—didn't I" Tramell character. In fact, Basic Instinct 2 is interesting only as a wildlife documentary (WWRRROOWWWRRR!) and as a nostalgic throwback to the heyday of the rapidly disappearing thriller genre (and how unintentionally hilarious and insultingly boring they can be). (Marjorie Skinner) (Marjorie Skinner) Regal Cinemas, etc

Battle in Heaven
Marcos (Marcos Hernández), is one pathetic motherfucker. He works for a general in the Mexican army, but he and his wife (Bertha Ruiz) have also inexplicably, stupidly kidnapped a baby, which has died. At work, Marcos confides in Ana (Anapola Mushkadiz), the General's young daughter, who he drives around and wants to fuck. Battle in Heaven's cast of non-actors handles things fine, but there are other problems here: Aside from its glacial pace, the film's so maddeningly structured and opaque—so insistently and ostentatiously closed—that one never feels like they know the characters. Plus, neither the film's graphic sexuality nor intense final reel do much to either illuminate or entertain; everything that (eventually) happens feels artificially assembled rather than earned, so instead of actually knowing where Marcos is coming from, or getting drawn in to the film's Lolita-esque plot, or just being grossed out by watching the fat Marcos and his fatter wife go at it, you're mostly left watching Marcos mope for an hour and a half. For a film that embraces sex and modern boredom/self-hatred as much Battle does, it all feels sterile and removed—which, even if that's director Carlos Reygadas' point, still makes for a pretty lousy film. (Erik Henriksen) Cinema 21

The Benchwarmers
Wonder of wonders, this movie (starring Rob Schneider, David Spade, and John Heder, AKA that dickbag from Napoleon Dynamite) wasn't screened for critics. All we have to go on is the trailer. There's no other way to say it: Everyone who was involved—from the producers to the actors to the caterers—should be force-fed syphilitic anuses until they apologize for single handedly destroying America. I'm not going to waste any space talking about plot or premise, but you should know that it has something to do with baseball and retards or some shit. And John Heder plays, well, Napoleon Dynamite. Only, somehow, impossibly, even less funny. (Scott Moore) Regal Cinemas, etc

Bottle Rocket
A while ago in Esquire, Martin Scorsese nominated Wes Anderson as the best new director in the past decade—not easy praise to come by. Scorsese was spellbound by Bottle Rocket, Anderson's clever and affectionate look at a group of would-be losers who believe themselves to be dashing robbers. The film is sublime and gripping, not to mention knock-you -on-your-ass hilarious—and is a great glimpse into the genesis of the dream team that brought you Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums. Pix Patisserie (North)

The Boys of Baraka
A compelling, moving documentary that follows 20 boys from inner city Baltimore as they're hand-selected to attend an alternative school in Kenya—where they'll be miles away from any city, have giraffes walk past their windows at night, and hopefully be gifted a future that would never exist if they stayed in Baltimore. (Chas Bowie) Hollywood Theatre

See review this issue. Fox Tower 10

The Celestine Prophecy
Smells like hippies.... Hollywood Theatre

Come & See
The latest exhilarating screening in "The Emma Goldman-Leon Trotsky Progressive Spring Film Fest at PSU." On a related note, PSU's Progressive Student Union has problems naming things. PSU Smith Memorial Student Union

Dave Chappelle's Block Party
Block Party's unbelievable roster goes like this: Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Kanye West, Common, Erykah Badu, the Roots, Dead Prez, and Jill Scott. And then there're the Fugees, and then there's host Chappelle, who liberally scatters his comedy throughout, and then there's Ohio's Central State University Marching Band. Is the music fucking amazing? Of course it is; to call this some of the best music of the past decade seems, weirdly, like an understatement. And is the comedy great? What do you think, Sherlock? (Erik Henriksen) Lloyd Mall

The Day the Earth Stood Still
One of the greatest sci-fi flicks of all time! A perfectly nice alien comes to earth to warn us about the evils of nuclear power, and we treat him like a plate of day-old gravy. That fuckin' SUCKS! Fifth Avenue Cinemas

Don't Come Knocking
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10

Estonian Animation for Kids!
Part of the Longbaugh Film Festival's "Lil' Longbaugh" program—you know, like Longbaugh, but for the kiddies! (Nice work, Lil' Longbaugh—they aren't even old enough to hit a PG-13 flick, yet you're already making them hate going to the movies.) Whitsell Auditorium

Find Me Guilty
A thoroughly coiffed Vin Diesel plays Jackie DiNorscio, a gangster who chose to be his own lawyer in a 1987 show trail that the US government hoped would strike a blow against organized crime. DiNorscio mounts a defense that consists largely of vulgar anecdotes and statements like "I'm no gangster... I'm a gagster!", and while sometimes repetitive, Sidney Lumet's film is nonetheless an entertaining and oddly nostalgic nod to the days when the mob was a force to be reckoned with. (Alison Hallett) City Center 12

First-Person in a Globalized World
"How does globalization affect the very idea and articulation of self? How can the spatial, temporal, and rhetorical elasticity of film language be used to give form to complex, multi-layered performances of the first-person?" Are you still awake? If yes, check out Cinema Project's latest screenings (and watch for a less-smartassy short in next week's Mercury). Cinema Project @ New American Art Union

Fistful of Dynamite
It's Sergio Leone night at Video Verite! Excellent. Video Verite

Flight of the Navigator
The LUCKIEST KID ON EARTH gets to get onto an ALIEN SPACESHIP and fly around and shit. SO AWESOME! As a side note, I was six years old when this movie came out, and I still hate that lucky little bastard. (Erik Henriksen) Video Verite

Fun with Dick and Jane
The good news? It's only 85 minutes long! In the era of Kong-length masturbatory cinema, it's damn near refreshing to escape a movie theater with blood still circulating in one's buns. The even better news? It's not terrible! As the star of Fun with Dick and Jane, Jim Carrey tones down his maniacal style a smidge (but just a smidge) to make this remake of the 1977 not-so-classic pretty tolerable. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Kennedy School

Good Night, and Good Luck
George Clooney's excellent film follows Edward R. Murrow as CBS airs his exposés on McCarthy's rampageous anti-communist crusade. As a director, Clooney continues to impress; here, with help from charged performances and gorgeous black-and-white cinematography, he utterly immerses the audience in the uncertain era of Murrow's exploits. But what's so powerful about Good Night isn't how authentically it depicts an antiquated era in responsible reportage—as outdated as Murrow's TV programs feel, the film is disconcertingly relevant when one considers the gap between what Murrow worked to make news into (smart, objective, and daring) and what it has become (the prosaic, sound-bite-centric CNN and the simplistic sermons of Fox News and Air America). (Erik Henriksen) Laurelhurst

Hotel Rwanda
Even if the acting is stiff and the plot a bit too tidy, you're obligated to see Hotel Rwanda. In 1994, over the course of 100 days, nearly one million Rwandans were slaughtered with machetes and clubs. Hotel Rwanda tells the true story of a hotel manager (Don Cheadle) who gave refuge to 1200 Rwandans in the midst of that hell on earth. Screened by Tualatin High's Global Vision Club, who're donating proceeds to the Genocide Intervention Network. (Phil Busse) Bagdad Theater

Ice Age: The Meltdown
Well, there are these two possums, and this elephant girl, and there was a boy one too, one of the mammoths? And the ice was breaking, so they had to find a new home, and in this one part, there are these two animals that wanted to kill them? So they found a new home. But my favorite part! There was this sloth, in just Ice Age, plain Ice Age—but in Ice Age 2, there's a whole group of sloths! And they kidnap the sloth because he can make fire, and they call him The Fire King, and 'cause he can make fire, and then he made fire! I like it better than the first one—I liked it better, this one had more of my favorite parts. And there were some parts with a squirrel. Those parts were my favorite. (Kayla, the Mercury's resident six-year-old.) Regal Cinemas, etc

Inside Man
If the very first scene in a film implies that a perfect bank robbery is going to take place, it had best deliver. Fortunately, Spike Lee's intense, focused Inside Man does—and while the film's not perfect, it does feature an inspired bank robbery, plus enough great performances and solid, clever twists to make it one of the most enjoyable thrillers in recent memory. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc

Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector
I've been staring at my computer screen for 10 minutes, trying to sort out and distill the vitriolic rage that swirls the bile in my belly when previews for this movie come on television. Here it is, folks—the source of all my pain and anguish: "Git 'er done!" This movie was not screened for critics. God is merciful. (Chas Bowie) Cinema 99, City Center 12, Oak Grove 8 Theater, Hilltop

Lucky Number Slevin
See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc

Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing and Charm School
Frank Keane (The Full Monty's Robert Carlyle) is a recent widower whose life changes when he meets Steve Mills (John Goodman). Mills is on his way to a long-awaited rendezvous at—you guessed it—Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing and Charm School when he has a fatal car crash; Mills' dying request is that sad sack Keane attend the meeting in his place. Keane goes, does the Lindy Hop, and life lessons ensue. A determinedly "indie" aesthetic and a wry, sense of humor keep this movie from being as lame as it probably sounds—in fact, it's actually pretty good. (Alison Hallett) Fox Tower 10

Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont
A not-very-good movie about old ladies: cute ones, nice ones, grumpy ones, dead ones. Joan Plowright (thoroughly charming) is Mrs. Palfrey, an upper-crusty English widow who moves into London's Claremont Hotel, a retirement home for elderly oddballs. She's just settling into her new lonely independence when she takes a tumble—kismet!—outside the apartment of 26-year-old Ludovic Meyer (Pride and Prejudice's beautiful Rupert Friend), who just happens to be a writer in search of muse and bosom buddy. The two embark upon an odyssey of emotions, guitar ballads, and creepy, sexually charged transference. Mrs. Palfrey might be the chewiest, cheesiest corncake ever to hit the screen: Hey, Mrs. P, what about the things that matter in life? "Most of the things that mattered to me aren't around anymore. They live in here [points to head] and here [points to heart]." Hey, Ludo, what's it like talking to Mrs. P? "She danced around her memories with the agile step of a young girl." Hey, what's that in my lap? Oh, it's barf. (Lindy West) Hollywood Theatre

Neil Young: Heart of Gold
This is Jonathan Demme's first concert film since the Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense, one of the greatest live music movies ever. But Sense was a visual film, with amazing slideshows, props, and a singer who pioneered the post-punk spaz out. Heart of Gold? A bunch of old dudes standing in place, singing harmony. (Chas Bowie) Fox Tower 10

Open Screening
Aspiring filmmakers, enthusiasts, and armchair critics gather and enjoy homemade shorts. A perfect chance to receive feedback from a supportive crowd. Bring your own film, or at least your own loudmouth opinions. Plus, admission is free! To enter a film, send an email to andrew@nwfilm.org. Guild

Phat Girlz
Is Mo'Nique round 'n' sassy, or morbidly obese 'n' depressed? Is the moral here that phat girlz should go to Nigeria to find brothers who love their curves? Is Mo'Nique channeling the ghost of Nell Carter here? (We miss ya, Nell.) Why are all the funniest parts of this preview the parts when the "serious" music is playing? Does Big Momma make a cameo in this movie? Please? Why is it that the fatter our society gets, the more comedies about fat people there are? Will Tyra Banks please put her fat suit back on and go see this movie with me? What does 'Nique do with that white man's wig after she snatches it off his cracker head? If those fatty boombooms at Fox Searchlight had held an advance screening for us, I could answer these questions for you. But they didn't, so instead, you're going to have to get your 48-ounce Diet Coke and family-size Sour Patch Kids and find out for yourself. (Chas Bowie) Century Eastport 16, Lloyd Cinemas

The Re-Animator
1985's pulp/mad scientist classic. Video Verite

She's the Man
A pretty retarded riff on Shakespeare's already-retarded Twelfth Night, with lame slapstick and PG-13-appropriate plot developments—but Man's star, the unexpectedly likeable WB sitcom actress Amanda Bynes, makes things a bit less painful and a bit more funny than one would expect. If anyone asks, though, I didn't even see this movie, alright? In fact, I don't even know who Amanda Bynes is. Leave me alone. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc

The fun, sneaky Slither isn't so much a scary movie so much as it's a movie about scary movies—which isn't to say that it's an inane parody in the Scary Movie vein. Slither, while hardly brilliant, is definitely smarter than that—and as it dissects and embraces horror clichés, it proves itself to be both cooler and funnier than most comedies. Following a hick town as it's overrun with malicious/cute alien slugs—who crawl up the sides of buildings, slide across bathroom floors, and leap into mouths, squirming and wriggling—Slither has no qualms about the ridiculousness (or the phallic/vaginal visuals) of its subject. Paired with a good amount of slimy creepiness and gleeful gore, the film's solid, sharp sense of humor is key here, largely thanks to Serenity's Nathan Fillion—who, as the town's overwhelmed police chief, can sell lines like "That is some fucked-up shit" and "Don't let 'em in yer mouth!" like no one else. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc

Source to Sea: The Columbia River Swim
A locally produced documentary about Christopher Swain, who swam the entire Columbia to raise attention about—what else?—the environment. Hey, hippie, while you're at it, why don't you swim back to Hippietown, hippie? Director in attendance. Clinton Street Theater

The Squid and the Whale
An insightful, affecting, and darkly funny film that's rooted in the human element, in the simple recounting, with no judgments and no clichés, of a family falling apart. (Erik Henriksen) Laurelhurst

Stay Alive
Frankie Muniz teams up with a bunch of no-names in this flaccid excuse for a Ring rip-off. But, instead of a death-sealing video, it's a videogame! Ooooooh. This movie's such a piece of shit that I couldn't hold my popcorn in my mouth because of all the nasal laughs I had going on. (Jenna Roadman) Regal Cinemas, etc

(Stop-And-Pause) Video Screening
A screening of videos from (stop-and-pause), a "collective video action committed to widening the scope of experimental video/film." Includes films from Portland filmmakers; more info at stop-and-pause.blogspot.com. Valentine's

Wading deep into the muck of the worldwide oil industry—from the dark complexions manning the fields to the pasty and smug faces reaping the profits—Syriana raises a number of troubling questions—then refuses to answer them, leaving the audience tasked with sorting solutions out for themselves. (Bradley Steinbacher) Laurelhurst, Bagdad Theater, Mission Theater, Edgefield, Academy Theater, Kennedy School

Take the Lead
See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc

Man, puberty would be so much cooler if it actually made you turn into a werewolf. Instead, it just gives you wet dreams, which are a real pain in the ass to clean up afterward. Clinton Street Theater

Thank You For Smoking
Smoking's great premise has the delightfully unscrupulous Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart)—a spin doctor for Big Tobacco—sparring and sneaking his way through activists and accusations. But like all wannabe cynics, director Jason Reitman can't maintain a vicious tone for long—midway through, Smoking takes a turn for the banal, the razor-sharp satire of the first 45 minutes giving way to a more scattershot type of comedy. Sure, this neutering of Smoking's amorality is better for its characters' consciences and lungs, but it kills Smoking's smart fun faster than a three-pack-a-day habit. (Erik Henriksen) Fox Tower 10, Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing

This Is Spinal Tap
Smell the glove once again with David St. Hubbins, Nigel Tufnel, and Derek Smalls in this rock mockumentary by Christopher Guest. Kennedy School

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
I hate to say this kind of thing in print, and I rarely do, so maybe you'll forgive me: The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada is the closest thing to a perfect movie you'll ever find. (Justin Sanders) Laurelhurst, Academy Theater

Transamerica—despite the buzz surrounding it—isn't so much a "transsexual movie" as it is something far less innovative: a totally conventional road movie. (Will Gardner) Mission Theater

Tsotsi, the 2006 Academy Award Winner for Best Foreign Picture, is a marvelously directed, skillfully acted, and sumptuously shot film about nihilism and hope amidst abject squalor. It's also as contrived and hackneyed as any formulaic tripe coming out of mainstream Hollywood. (Chas Bowie) Fox Tower 10, Cinetopia, Cinemagic

Unknown White Male
See review this issue. Cinema 21

V for Vendetta
Based on Alan Moore and David Lloyd's dark, powerful comic book series, V's the story of a terrorist who wears a stylized Guy Fawkes mask as he sows dissent in a fascist Britain. The cynical, deceptively simple story—which is adapted here via a screenplay by the Wachowski Brothers, recovering nicely from their Matrix sequel stumbles—was impressive when published in the '80s, and has only gained more relevance—a thought that's at once terrifying and enlightening. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc

Willamette Week's Longbaugh Film Festival Presented by Comcast
Willamette Week (your grandpa's favorite retirement home newsletter!) and Comcast (everyone's favorite cable monopoly!) team up to bring you a film festival. For more info, hit longbaugh.com. Cinema 21, Laurelhurst, Kennedy School, Bagdad Theater, Mission Theater, Clinton Street Theater

The Women's Film Preservation Fund Tour
The "premier effort in the world to preserve the cultural legacy of women in film," collecting all sorts of shorts—from films about Ellis Island to an "African-American independent feature loosely based on Somerset Maugham's Rain." Finally. Whitsell Auditorium