An American Haunting
Surprise, surprise. A crappy looking horror movie isn't screened for critics. Regal Cinemas, etc.
Burn to Shine
See Music, pg. 19. Guild, Acme
CSA: The Confederate States of America
It's a scenario that's too disturbing to think about, but what if the south had won the Civil War? That's the premise this surprisingly effective little film posits, and the answers are horrifying. Shot like a PBS or History Channel special, CSA shows an alternate American present, where African-Americans are still held as slaves and abolitionists are treated as enemies to freedom. CSA is darkly funny, uncomfortable, and infuriating all at once—meaning I recommend it wholeheartedly. (Scott Moore) Hollywood Theatre
Don't Come Knocking
Sam Shepard plays Howard Spence, a washed-up Western star who spent the better part of his life knocking back booze, pills, women, and handcuffs. One day on the set of a cheesy, generic Western, Howard takes off into the sunset to make peace with his personal history. While not a flawless movie, you'd be hard-pressed this month to find another that's this intelligent, cool, and fun. (Chas Bowie) Laurelhurst
The Fallen Idol
Although director Carol Reed would top The Fallen Idol a year later with his cunning The Third Man, here he demonstrates that he's unparalleled at adapting Graham Greene stories. In Idol (1948), a 10-year-old ambassador's child believes he witnesses his favorite butler murder his wife—or at least he talks himself into believing so. A commentary on the adult world as seen by a child, The Fallen Idol is the more Hitchcockian—and, while it's not in the least creepy, the film is undoubtedly absorbing. (Will Gardner) Cinema 21
Hart of London
A work by "perceptual realist" Jack Chambers. More info: 40frames.org. 40 Frames
Hey, Jimmy Buffett! What the fuck's up, man? First you swear off the booze and now you're making hokey, PC kids' movies? This from the guy that sang the line "Why don't we get drunk and screw"? The guy that used to hang out with Hunter S. Thompson?! And now we have Hoot, a film you produced, soundtracked, and acted in, the story of a kid from outta town who tries to save some endangered owls and who—who cares? The only thing you need to know about this movie is it's rated PG-13 for "mild bullying." (Adam Gnade) Regal Cinemas, etc.
The awesome Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Lola, a brassy transvestite who teams up with shoemaker Charlie Price (Joel Edgerton) to save a small English shoe company—by creating a line of boots that have transvestite-y style but are strong enough to support a man's weight. There's a whole lot of safely risqué, heartwarming, Full Monty-esque stuff going on here, with uptight, curmudgeony Brits (including Shaun of the Dead's Nick Frost) having to get used to the idea of working with a transvestite. It's all pretty hackneyed and corny (even though it's ostensibly based on a true story, it all feels painstakingly contrived), but the performances of Ejiofor and Edgerton save it. Ejiofor's essentially playing two characters here—the flamboyant, free-spirited Lola, and Lola's counterpart, the more traditionally male Simon, who's emotionally scarred and far more fragile—and he's sensitive, nuanced, and incredibly likeable as both; never do either Lola or Simon feel like the clichés they're written as. Edgerton, meanwhile, can't help but have the show stolen from him (he's acting against a brassy transvestite, after all), but he holds things down amicably and creates enough of an emotional constant to make Kinky Boots, for all its falsely "edgy" topics, moderately involving and rewarding. (Erik Henriksen) Fox Tower 10
La Mujer de Mi Hermano
Think of an incredibly beautiful woman. Call her Zoë. Think of her classically handsome husband, a finance executive—ripped, bespectacled, fussy, laconic, a fan of Bach, a reader of The Economist. Call him Ignacio. Ignacio, like all good attractive people, has a brother. His brother is also sexy and ripped, but swarthier than Ignacio. Let's call him Gonzalo, since that's his name in La Mujer de Mi Hermano, which translates: My Brother's Wife. Gonzalo seduces Zoë, which any man in his right mind would do; Zoë's game. Gonzalo is hot and Zoë's marriage to Ignacio—well, Zoë and Ignacio only have sex on Saturdays. The movie works because these three actors (Bárbara Mori as Zoë, Christian Meier as Ignacio, Manolo Cardona as Gonzalo) are so slammin' hot it seems plain that all they'd want to do is undress one another. All the self-entitlement at work is depressing—she and he feel like they can sleep together because her husband doesn't bang her enough, he feels like he doesn't have to sleep with his wife if it's not Saturday—and nothing is more emblematic of self-entitlement than the big, modern house that Ignacio and Zoë seem bored by. Substantively, the movie is weak, but it's entrancing. In one shot, Zoë and Gonzalo kiss out of focus. In focus, in the foreground, is a swooping curve of furniture, upholstered in textured tan fabric, trimmed with metal studs. Oh, rich people and their problems. (Christopher Frizzelle) Fox Tower 10
A film that asks if we "really know the truth about 9/11." Snore. Fifth Avenue Cinemas
Films from Reed College students and alumni. Reed College
Mission: Impossible III
See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
Charlie Chaplin's 1936 film, in which he attempts to live in modern society. But modernity's so confusing! Clinton Street Theater
One Last Thing...
The last wish of a terminally tumored 16-year-old (Michael Angarano) is a lusty weekend with a supermodel (Sunny Mabrey). The problem isn't really the film's banality, nor that Mabrey isn't that pretty. It's mainly that screenwriter Barry Stringfellow (a TV writer for series such as Sweet Valley High and Perfect Strangers) has the teens speak the way adults think teens speak—and as a result, you end up hating the little fuckers. The film is minimally star-studded—Cynthia Nixon is the boy's mother, Gina Gershon finds work again as Mabrey's agent, and Ethan Hawke has an unbilled cameo as the dead father—and utterly injurious. Stay away. (William Gardner) Hollywood Theatre
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10
Rebecca Baron: Surveillance, Documentation, and Narrative
Cinema Project's screening three films by Rebecca Baron over two days—and the first night is the clear winner. How Little We Know of Our Neighbours, Baron's most recent film, examines Britain's Mass Observation Movement, beginning with its inception in the early 1930s. Equal parts anthropological observation and creeptastic voyeurism, the Movement sought to expose the innermost secrets of society by monitoring and photographing the activities of an unsuspecting public. In the age of the Patriot Act, this is a riveting—and wholly unsettling—piece of filmmaking. To round out the programming, How Little We Know will be screened with Spare Time, a film made by the Movement's main photographer, Humphrey Jennings, in 1939. (John Motley) Cinema Project @ New American Art Union
Spirit of the Beehive
A young girl in a Castillian town sees Frankenstein, and is changed forever. Hey, thanks, Frankenstein's monster! Whitsell Auditorium
The Tomato Effect
An investigation that "uncovers shocking secrets" about the case of Zane R. Kime, a practitioner of "environmental medicine" (hippie alert!) who was singled out for persecution by the government. Again, just to be safe: HIPPIE ALERT! Goddamn. They're everywhere. Clinton Street Theater
See review this issue. Guild