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Film Shorts

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Along Came A Spider
Along Came a Spider is a prequel to Kiss the Girls. Morgan Freeman plays Dr. Alex Cross, a detective who deals with the most psychotic white men in America. Though Kiss the Girls is the better of the two thrillers, I still enjoyed Along Came a Spider because Morgan Freeman is Morgan Freeman. 82nd Avenue, Lloyd Mall

Angel Eyes
I've been robbed! This ain't no eerie psycho drama thriller movie! It's a freakin' love story! So don't pay any mind to the trailer, cuz what you see is what you DON'T get. Here's what I don't get: why falsely market Jennifer Lopez? What's with the cover up? The plot: A beautiful, troubled police officer (Lopez) falls for a man with a mysterious past. Except that it's not mysterious at all, he's just got problems like the rest of us. Although this movie packs the power of Velveeta cheese, Jenny doesn't disappoint. Just another example of J.Lo's ability to turn chicken shit into something more appealing than chicken shit. (Quinn Viladas) 82nd Avenue, Broadway Metroplex, Century Eastport 16, City Center 12, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Koin Center, Lloyd Mall, Milwaukie 3 Theater, Washington Square Center

The Animal
Rob Schneider stars as a man about whom nothing is funny, especially when he pretends to be a dolphin or a monkey or a dog. Jesus, world, have we really sunk so low? At least Colleen from Survivor is in it. The day is saved! Century Eastport 16, Oak Grove 8 Theater, Tigard Cinemas

* Before Night Falls
The real-life story of Cuban writer Reynaldo Arenas, from his childhood in Cuba, to joining Fidel Castro's revolutionaries, to later being persecuted for homosexuality. A politcal film which centers on one man's loneliness.

The Big Lebowski
Jeff Bridges plays a stupid fucking hippie stoner who finds himself neck-deep in a murder mystery. Written and directed by the Coen brothers. Fifth Avenue Cinemas

* Blow
Blow is Hollywood all the way to the bank. But despite all its predictability--a young man (Johnny Depp) rises to the top of the international drug trade and then falls to the bottom of the prison system--its portrayal of Mexicans, Central Americans, and middle America is unexpectedly sympathetic. Kiggins Theater, Lloyd Cinemas

Broadcast Video Fest Hollywood Theatre
*
Caddyshack

Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, and Rodney Dangerfield star in this searing docu-drama of class subterfuge and animal (groundhog) rights.

* Calle 54
There is very little to compare the Buena Vista Social Club with Calle 54, although that's the first impulse since both films document the unsung history of Cuban music. In Calle 54, however, the past and present of Latin jazz are celebrated naturalistically, with consecutive performances by 13 jazz masters, filmed simply. Such faith in the subject matter left very little need for talk in this film--the musicians aren't forced into mythologizing themselves. Director Fernando Trueba displays a beautiful concern for humility in Calle 54. His narration is spare, so he never gets overentangled in his subject. Though the film slips from unstable black and white into full, shocking color, the filmmaking remains reverent and observational, allowing for all the movie's rhythms to be born of the music. Tito Puente, Bebo Valdés and his son Chucho, Jerry Gonzàlez, Eliane Elías--all give mesmerizing performances. (Paula Gilovich)

The Center of the World
Richard (Peter Sarsgaard), an Internet millionaire, hires Florence (Molly Parker), a stripper, to accompany him for a weekend in Las Vegas "to get to know you better," he says. She scoffs, but agrees, adding the following conditions: no talk about feelings, no kissing on the mouth, no penetration, separate rooms, and all contact shall be confined to between the hours of 10 pm and 2 am. What ensues is a bold, graphic, often hard-to-watch examination of what passes for love among the ruins of prosperity. Clinton Street Theatre

Chocolat
Today I'm not weak. The film critic in me has control over my emotions; it can and will repress my wolflike desire to fill this review with hungry words that praise the celestial beauty of Juliette Binoche. That said, the movie itself is unremarkable, and has absolutely nothing new to offer. (Charles Mudede) Koin Center, Milwaukie 3 Theater

* The Claim
Michael Winterbottom adapts Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge (guy "sells" wife and child, the evil deed haunts him). I haven't liked Winterbottom's previous work, including his version of Hardy's Jude the Obscure, but I loved The Claim. Winterbottom sets the story in the Gold Rush, with the gigantic Canadian Rockies overplaying the part of the merely big-shouldered Sierra Nevada. Wes Bentley is beautiful, Milla Jovovich is strong, Michael Nyman's score saws away dramatically in the background, Joanne Hansen's costume design makes everyone look better than real, and the hush in which Winterbottom requires almost all the lines to be delivered as a useful equivalent to Hardy's literary airs. High-toned hooey, extremely enjoyable. (Barley Blair) Koin Center

Crocodile Dundee In Los Angeles
Crocodile Dundee winds up in LA, gets in a couple of pickles, gets out, and goes home. Nobody gets hurt, nobody dies. If you paid money to see it you won't feel cheated, because one would only pay to see this if they were seeking dependable entertainment. Avalon, Kiggins Theater, Mt. Hood Theater

* Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Legendary warrior Chow Yun Fat can never declare his love for fellow martial-arts expert Michelle Yeoh. Instead, he entrusts her with Green Destiny, his nearly magical sword. But in the dark of night a hooded thief steals it, which leads to a fight held mostly in midair. An attempt to wed emotionally reticent drama with the exhilarating freedom of Hong Kong-genre filmmaking, but director Ang Lee can't quite pull off the combination; for too long a time, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon's shifting gears only jam. The film finds its rhythm and earns the accolades it received once it leaves the stars behind and gives its heart over to the young and engaging Zhang Ziyi, as the aristocratic daughter of privilege who opts instead for the dangerous yet thrilling occupation of thief. (Bruce Reid) City Center 12, Koin Center, Moreland Theater, Washington Square Center

Driven
A race car movie guilty of tantalizing, but not satisfying, the prurient interest. With Sylvester Stallone AND Burt Reynolds. Evergreen Parkway

End of the Road
A surreal drama from 1970 with a boyish James Earl Jones as a psychologist who plays twisted head games with his patient (Stacy Keach), eventually leading him into an affair with a co-workers wife. Controversial when released, the film was rated X for its general fucked up nature and the amount of skin that it shows (but no, sorry, we don't see James Earl Jones' thangy). Laurelhurst Theater

Enemy at the Gates
This film by Jean-Jacques Annaud (Seven Years in Tibet) tells a story of two men in love with the same woman, set against a backdrop of international conflict. The action scenes are great, concentrating mostly on a game of wits and nerves between Vassily and an opposing sniper, a German aristocrat (Ed Harris) called in to squelch the popular Vassily. The only trouble is, the alternating love story sequences are utterly boring. (D.K. Holm) Laurelhurst Theater

Exit Wounds
Exit Wounds tells the story of how Steven Seagal, with the help of rapper DMX, cleans up a corrupt police precinct-one bad cop, and one unattended jelly donut at a time. Steven Seagal has had a tough time in recent years with his rampant pot belly and poor box office performances. He's lost a bit of weight for this one, though; he's healthier, younger looking, his flexibility is once again bordering upon functional, and there is a lot of chemistry between he and his onscreen partner. Unfortunately for DMX, however, the chemistry between Steven Seagal and any actor will always result in the organic compound that I like to refer to as shit, and really that's no fun to watch at all. (Kudzai Mudede)

Finding Forrester
A kid from the Bronx excels at both basketball and composition, befriends a hermit writer, undergoes a crisis from which the writer must extract him; thereby helping the writer overcome his own reclusive, blah blah blah. (Barley Blair)

* The Gleaners and I
Director Agnes Varda, while somewhat underappreciated among her contemporaries, still stands as one of the great film artists to come out of the French New Wave. The Gleaners and I is a short, often humorous, and always intelligent meditation on the people in society that forage for their goods in others refuse.

Go Fish
A black-and-white lesbian film that's about as exciting as plunging the toilet. Hollywood Theatre

The Golden Bowl
The Golden Bowl is, in part, a drama of manners, and Merchant Ivory's production moves neatly upon the joints and hinges of a repressed society. But the filmmakers seem to think that a well-appointed costume drama with the weight of Henry James behind it doesn't need any creative help to succeed, so the neatness is plodding. People enter rooms, whisper to one another, make out passionately behind closed doors while holding lit candles, and glare portentously at photographs--but the movie remains too damp to make a spark. Fox Tower 10

* Himalaya
Himalaya is a groundbreaking, genuine portrait of the Dolpo region of Nepal. The story revolves around Tinle, an old chief who loses his eldest son. What follows is a mesmerizing adventure that evokes the forces of ancestral strife and nature at its most treacherous. Says director Eric Valli: "This film is a love story, a love story between this place, these people, and me. It's very simple." (Kudzai Mudede) Fox Tower 10

* The House of Mirth
British director Terence Davies' The House of Mirth, starring Gillian Anderson and Dan Aykroyd, adapts Edith Wharton's 1905 novel about New York high society--the tragic story of a beautiful young woman looking to marry a rich husband. Consequently, she finds herself torn between her need for financial security and her desire for personal integrity.

* In the Mood for Love
Tired of Meg Ryan damsel-in-distress love stories? Directed by Wong Kar-wai (Fallen Angels), an achingly beautiful film about two neighbors in 1960s Hong Kong whose spouses are having affairs with each other. Like cinematic Kama Sutra, the scenes unfold slowly but with mesmerizing charm. In spite of their smoldering lust for each other, the two jilted spouses try to refrain from falling into the same trap of lust and betrayal as their spouses have. In one simultaneously yin-funny and painful-yang scene, the two act out scenarios in which they imagine their own spouses carrying on with their affair and mocking them behind their backs. (Phil Busse) Laurelhurst Theater

* Journey Into Amazing Caves
The latest IMAX film from the National Science Foundation is a jaw-dropping splunk into three amazing caves--one in the Grand Canyon, another below the glaciers of Greenland, and a third, completely underwater cave in tropical Mexico. With towering cathedrals of frozen waterfalls, the ice caves are eye-popping and the underwater tunnels are eerie, creepy, yet strangely titillating. The Science Foundation tries to fuse a detective story into the scenery--the team is looking for life forms that may unlock answers to new medicines. But, really, with gratuitous kayaking off waterfall scenes and hair-raising rock climbing shots shown on a five-story screen, it is just glossy, supersized pornography for adventurers. Hum-mina, hum-mina, hum! (Phil Busse) OMSI

A Knight's Tale
Closer in spirit to the video game Joust than to the Chaucer book from which it takes its name, this Heath Ledger vehicle makes ample use of '70s anthem rock and other anachronisms to create a really long, boring teenager movie. Century Eastport 16, City Center 12, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Fox Tower 10, Lloyd Cinemas, Oak Grove 8 Theater, Tigard Cinemas, Westgate

* The Letter Never Sent
Part of the Soviet Cinema of the Sixties, this film inspired Apocalypse Now for its expansive story about a geological team in Siberia who runs into every obstacle imaginable. Northwest Film Center at The Guild Theater

* The Luzhin Defence
I can think of no filmmaker (with the possible exception of the Brothers Quay) who could successfully transfer The Defense--Vladimir Nabokov's third and most cerebral Russian novel--from text into moving, speaking images. So how was the Dutch director Marleen Gorris able to make a decent film out of Nabokov's least cinematic book? By not making a film about the book. The movie is about eternal love, the book is about the limits of art. The book ends with a suicide; the movie does not. The movie is focused on the body of a woman, the book rarely leaves the mind of a madman. Those who love Nabokov's novels and are outraged when filmmakers fail to capture the master's intellectual essence on film, must do their best to avoid this film. But those who want to watch an atmospheric film about love, sunlight, and beautiful Italian lakes will not be disappointed. (Charles Mudede) Koin Center

* Memento
Memento has a lot of starch in it; the film sticks with you for days as you rehearse it over and over in your mind. It's also a movie so good that you almost fear a critical backlash against it. You come out of it feeling almost resentful at how good it is, and given that almost everyone is an aspiring filmmaker these days, this resentment is unvarnished jealousy. But this reviewer is pure of spirit, or at least spite: I may have seen a better film so far this year than Memento, but if I have, I've forgotten it. (D.K. Holm) Century Eastport 16, City Center 12, Fox Tower 10, Lloyd Cinemas

Moulin Rouge
Rumor has it that Tom Cruise dumped Nicole Kidman because this movie was so incredibly gay. Well, it's not gay. It's just stupid. See review this issue. Century Eastport 16, Fox Tower 10, Oak Grove 8 Theater, Tigard Cinemas

The Mummy Returns
The first 30 minutes of this film are excruciating; the rest is better, thanks mostly to the appearance of John Hannah, but writer/director Stephen Sommers gets trumped by a ceaseless parade of god-awful digital effects. Digital mummy, digital scarabs, digital scorpions, digital armies, digital waterfall, digital river, digital drigible... even the city of London is digital. 82nd Avenue, Broadway Metroplex, Century Eastport 16, City Center 12, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Lloyd Cinemas, Oak Grove 8 Theater, St. John's Theater, Tigard Cinemas, Westgate

* Nico and Dani
Nico and Dani has a complicated lineage (from play to Spanish movie directed by one Cesc Gay), but is something of a tease. What seems to be a teen comedy about two normal-looking kids trying to get laid during summer break is actually a gay coming-of-age tale. Nico (Jordi Vilches) and Dani (Fernando Ramallo) have 10 days together on the coast while the 'rents are out of town; Nico wants the two of them to hit on a game pair of girls; Dani keeps hitting on a dense Nico, swapping spit with him when he's conked out. What seems at first to be a typical tale of horny teens--a Mediterranean American Pie--suddenly turns out to be Boys in the Band. But unlike most current teen comedies, this film actually likes its characters. In fact, the moviemakers may like their characters a little too much, blinding them to the selfish side of adolescence. But despite the film's gentleness, it takes a few unexpected narrative turns. By the way, the film's original title is Krampack, a word for the boys' mutual masturbation games. (D.K. Holm) Hollywood Theatre

* Nine Days of One Year
The terror of becoming westernized haunts this technology-based tale of two physicists on the verge of an alarming discovery. See review this issue. Northwest Film Center at The Guild Theater

* O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Set in Depression-era Mississippi, George Clooney stars as Everett Ulysses McGill, a suave and well-groomed petty criminal doing hard time on a chain gang. Shackled to Pete (John Turturro) and Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson), he convinces them to join him in escaping by promising to split a fortune in buried treasure with them. (Andy Spletzer) Avalon, Bagdad Theater, Cinemagic, Fox Tower 10, Kennedy School Theatre, Kiggins Theater, Laurelhurst Theater, Mission Theater, Moreland Theater, Tigard-Joy Theater

Pearl Harbor
Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor--and that's really what it should be called (like Fellini's Roma or the George Foreman Grill, the vision expressed could only belong to one man)-is everything the preview led you to believe: overlong, overlit, overwrought, and overpaid. It's nationalism porn, delivering all the basest flag-waving heroism with none of the meat and mettle of actual history or conflict. And as with real porn, your blood surges in the heat of the moment-with digital bombing raids over phallic turrets standing in for cum shots-and then, the second it's over you feel dirty for having let yourself watch. (Sean Nelson) 82nd Avenue, Broadway Metroplex, Century Eastport 16, City Center 12, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Lake Twin Cinema, Lloyd Cinemas, Oak Grove 8 Theater, Tigard Cinemas, Westgate, Wilsonville

The People's Voice
Wanna learn how to launch your very own pirate radio? Last summer, the overlords at FCC decided to open up the airwaves to a bunch of locally-own, community-run, low-powered stations (stations that make KBOO look like Ted Turner!). Unfortunately a bunch of corporate giants have killed this plan. Narrated by Peter Coyote, this documentary recaps the story about how low-powered stations are grabbing hold of small corners of the radio dial around the country and provides a tutorial about how Portland can do the same. Koinonia House

Pollock
Another attempt from the film industry to mine the romantic lie of Bohemian life. This is actor Ed Harris' directorial debut (he also stars), and seems too hurried to establish the iconic events of painter Jackson Pollock's life--see Pollock urinate in Peggy Guggenheim's fireplace, see Pollock overturn the Thanksgiving table, see Pollock accidentally discover drip painting--instead of letting any of these moments achieve any natural resolution. Kennedy School Theatre, Laurelhurst Theater

* Robert Machover in Person
Fillmmaker Robert Machover, a promoter of radical social change and member of the film collective Newsreel (an organization that promoted new filmmakers back in the 1960s) will visit and show films he made in the '60s and '80s. Tuesday 6/5 only, see Troublemakers, a 1965 film about organizing a Black ghetto in Newark, NJ, and We Got to Live Here (1966), which deals with the same city with images and accounts of life in the ghetto. On Wednesday 6/6 and Thursday 6/7, see Shop Talk, about the tribulations of unionizing a printing plant at the cusp of the Technological Era and the Reagan Anti-Labor nightmare years. (Also, possibly see Binocular if the print arrives in time.) It should be an interesting program, especially to those filmmakers and activists who are doing something about the social change that still affects us 40 years later, in 2001. Four Wall Cinema

Save the Last Dance
Finally! A multi-racial Dirty Dancing! A midwestern honky moves to the big city, and hooks up with a smooth talking brutha from the South Side. Are we all clear on this? Great. EVERYBODY DANCE! Mt. Hood Theater

Shrek
With fart and poop jokes aplenty, this computer animation flick is like a little boy's dream come true. Mike Myers puts on his Irish accent as the misunderstood Ogre Shrek, and Eddie Murphy ceaselessly yaks as his over-zealous, donkey sidekick. The most horrible actress in the world, Cameron Diaz, succeeds in making her character an inflamed, bloody ear sore that one would rather see squished than find true love and happiness. I found this movie kinda cute, but pretty annoying, while my boyfriend was doubled over in hysterics. Dads, take your sons, but be prepared for a lot of tooting and snickering afterwards. (Katie Shimer) Broadway Metroplex, Century Eastport 16, City Center 12, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Lake Twin Cinema, Lloyd Mall, Oak Grove 8 Theater, St. John's Theater, Tigard Cinemas, Westgate, Wilsonville

Someone Like You
If cuteness becomes a commodity, Ashley Judd will become an enormous, publicly-traded, multinational corporation. Please think twice before you go see this film.

Startup.com
Two entrepreneurs start up an internet company, and then are forced to watch it crash and burn. Sorry, folks. It ain't pets.com. Cinema 21

* State and Main
Alec Baldwin, William H. Macy, Sarah Jessica Parker, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and David Paymer descend on a small Vermont town to make a movie, bringing their sophisticated mores with them. The town end is held down by Charles Durning, Clark Gregg, Ricky Jay, Patti LuPone, Matt Malloy, Rebecca Pidgeon, and Julia Stiles... Do you begin to see a problem here? The cast is as fixedly big-city as a traffic jam. Though to tell you the truth, I was laughing too hard to worry about small inaccuracies. David Mamet has said that he was thinking of Preston Sturges when he put this film together, and it's a worthy successor to the Master. (Barley Blair)

The Tailor of Panama
Brit superspy Andy Oxnard (Pierce Brosnan) has been banished to Panama for overindulging his appetites. He sizes up the tense, complicated international scene at the Canal and finds himself a hapless ex-pat British tailor (Geoffrey Rush) to squeeze for information. Boorman's film is far too awkward and self-conscious to allow the audience to sink into spy fantasia; as a result, Brosnan's absurdly dashing spy becomes utterly grotesque, even sickening. (Evan Sult) Koin Center, Washington Square Center

The Taste of Others
A suburban businessman becomes entranced by a failed actress. And it's very, very Franch. Northwest Film Center at Whitsell Auditorium

* Taxi Driver
This is a film everyone should see before they hit puberty. Endlessly helpful in dealing with the trials of life, Robert DeNiro walks the viewer through feelings such as love, anger, patriotism, menstruation, and blowing the fucking head off your enemies. Imperative in understanding the social sciences, it will teach youth about the "street smarts" they need to get through life in this day and age. As a bonus, Jodie Foster presents a special program on grooming and a seminar designed especially for young women entitled, "Sexual Intercourse: How Soon is too Soon?" (Julianne Shepherd) Fifth Avenue Cinemas

The Sum of Us
A key film in my long-standing theory that all Australian movies are boring. Russell Crowe plays Jeff Mitchell, a gay boy whose overprotective, advice-giving dad (Jack Thompson) really wants him to find true love. The film's really sweet and all, in that Crowe's character is already out before the film starts (thus sparing us from the over-dramatic, teary-confessional outings Hollywood likes to give us) and dad tries to hook him up with some meaty Aussies. But since I saw this when it came out in 1994, I haven't seen an Australian movie that didn't have the pace of a four-day-dead kangaroo. It might be cursed; even still, at least it's not another gay movie made for straight people who don't personally know any queers (like another Aussie snooze-fest, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert). (Julianne Shepherd) Hollywood Theatre

Traffic
What with Hollywood throwing Oscars at director Steven Soderbergh, this film is perhaps the most over-hyped film of the year. By now, unless you've been hiding up Richard Gere's butt, you know the scoop: With jumpy camera movements and "edgy" editing, the film braids together three loosely connected stories about the--gasp--drug war. What you may not have heard, though, is that one of these three stories is about as challenging as an after-school special, and another a blatant Miami Vice rip-off. The only truly lasting quality of the film is Benicio Del Toro, whose unflinching performance explores the conflicts between loyalty and self-preservation. (Phil Busse) Avalon, Bagdad Theater, Laurelhurst Theater

What's the Worst that Could Happen?
Well, Danny DeVito and Martin Lawrence could star in a movie together, for starters.... Century Eastport 16, Oak Grove 8 Theater, Tigard Cinemas

* With a Friend Like Harry
This Hitchcockian thriller took France by storm last year, winning several Cesar awards (France's version of the Oscar). The blackest hue of comedy tints the tale of Harry (Sergi Lopez), a wealthy bon vivant with an unshakable affinity for Michel (Laurent Lucas). Harry, firm in his belief that Michel's child-strewn, moneyless life could be made more easy, begins to use his influence--and cash--to remove various obstacles to Michel's happiness. A new car here and a case of Champagne there escalates to a predictably absurd degree. The film is plain in comparison to its obvious inspiration, Hitchcock's oeuvre. But a deft French wit, and that oh-so-well-done trick of Euro-allegory (this film is about the difficulty of making art) rise like cream to the top of this film: The first taste is awfully sweet, even if it doesn't linger long. (Jamie Hook) Fox Tower 10

* You Can Count on Me
This is the sort of well-crafted, nutritious drama that gets critics burned out on adrenalized hoopla all tied up in knots. It's fine work, featuring Laura Linney's best performance since Congo (or maybe even before) as a single mom in the quaint burg of Scottsville. Her pothead drifter of a brother, also well played by Mark Ruffalo, shows up, spurring an eventual, earnest realization of the importance of family. Matthew Broderick has an amusing role as Linney's new boss, who says things like "I like paperwork." The latest product of the Culkin Family Factory Farm for Cuteness, Rory, plays the precocious eight-year-old. Playwright Kenneth Lonergan has, for his first film, created a movie for grown-ups that hardly ever surprises, but somehow that's Okay. (Marc Mohan) Cinemagic

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