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Film Shorts

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PDX FILM FEST
See "Another Damn Film Fest," page 46, and "Up & Coming," page 24

Popaganda: The Art and Crimes of Ron English This documentary shows off the rich tapestry that is the life and career of master artist and subvert Ron English. At once prolific and poignant, English has been cranking out copious amounts of art, street theater, and music for years. You've seen English's work whether you know it or not--his paintings have graced the promotional posters of Supersize Me!, album covers for the Dandy Warhols, and countless humorously/politically altered billboards. To describe English's paintings, it'd be necessary for my words to melt and float away as vaguely familiar iridescent clouds saddled by ersatz pop icons, so I won't even try. I will simply suggest that you see this documentary. (Lance Chess) Guild


Shorts Programs #1-5 As per usual, shorts galore lie nestled in between the feature films at this year's PDX Film Fest. The word "experimental" can be scary to some, but there's nothing to fear from these experimental shorts--the good ones are perfect little self-contained gems; the bad ones are over before you get a chance to slit your wrists. Aaron Valdez's "Big Screen Version," found in Shorts Program #1, for instance, is good; a three-minute epic of found footage editing mastery, featuring clips of hilariously cheesy local news anchors spliced into a delirious rhythm of plastic grins, shiny hair, soundbites, and throat clears. Jim Trainor's "Harmony" (also in Shorts Program #1), for instance, is bad; an animated montage of hideous, morphing jungle animals and other weird images, backed by a voiceover that features lines like, "We cut a little boy's penis open. We used a sharp knife. We wanted to give him a little vagina." This is the kind of pointlessly offensive tripe that gives experimental film a bad name, but then it only lasts 12 minutes. Besides, it's all part of the experience at these sort of events, and if there's one thing these shorts never are, it's boring.(Justin Sanders) Guild

The Great Art of Knowing This is the latest in filmmaker David Gatten's cycle of nine films exploring the Byrds, a Virginian family from the early 18th century--this short, silent episode investigates words and images from the family's library and diaries, including the work of Leonardo da Vinci, Athanasius Kirchner, and Jules-Etienne Marey. Existing somewhere at the intersection of structuralist aesthetics, biographical narrative, and language poetry, Gatten's work is meditative and philosophical. Much of the film alternates between abstract montages and text-heavy fragments, leaving the viewer to construct meaning from the recurrent themes of flying birds, luxurious gardens, faith, and life's menial tasks. It is difficult and dense, but totally worth the effort. Plays with Peter Hutton's Skagafjordur. (Ryan Dirks) Guild


War at a Distance Harun Farocki's film about "the relationship between military strategy and industrial production." Preceded by Diary, a Lithuanian film looking at post-Soviet life. Guild


After Midnight Yet another Italian film about cinema-obsession? Yeah, but this one ain't so bad. After a long-term crush on the girl who works at a fast food joint, Amanda (Francesca Inaudi), the shy night watchman at Torino's Cinema Museum, Martino (Giorgio Pasotti), finally commands her attention. True, this is no original story, but as a tribute to silent films (particularly Buster Keaton), After Midnight relies more on the characters' actions and expressions than their words; the film, unlike others with similar plots, never says too much. Besides, the magnificent interiors of the cinema museum and the dusky exteriors of Torino make for stunning, dreamy-yet-not-somnolent watching. (Will Gardner) Hollywood Theatre


The Amityville Horror See review this issue. Oak Grove 8 Theater , Century Eastport 16 , Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing , Movies on TV , Division Street , Sherwood 10, Vancouver Plaza, Hilltop , Evergreen Parkway , Broadway Metroplex , Wilsonville , Tigard Cinemas , City Center 12 , Lloyd Cinemas , Cinema 99


Bad Education If Hitchcock's Vertigo collided head-on with a drag queen variety show, the brilliant wreckage would be Pedro Almodóvar's Bad Education. The eccentric Spanish filmmaker weaves together themes of false identity, chronological shifts, and his erotic style; the end result is a film that sacrifices some of the comedy and melodrama that anchored Almodóvar's All About My Mother and Talk to Her and instead relies upon a complex plot that slowly distills fact from fantasy. (Ryan Dirks) Fox Tower 10


Beauty Shop The problem with movies like Beauty Shop is that they have no lasting effects on the viewer. So even though I just saw the movie like three days ago, I actually remember very little of it. In fact, I wonder if I saw it at all. This doesn't mean it was a bad film, because surprisingly it wasn't terrible. It's just that it'll sort of entertain you for that 100 minutes or whatever, and then you're back to where you were before seeing it. Beauty Shop is a lot like Barbershop, except all the roles are reversed. And, you know, they face their challenges, and together they see it through. And they do some hair while they're at it. (Megan Seling) Regal Cinemas, etc.


Blue Part of Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors Trilogy. Juliet Binoche stars as a woman who loses her husband (a composer) and daughter to an accident, and the film follows her eventual liberation form her grief.Pix Patisserie


The Boys and Girl from County Clare Jimmy (Colm Meaney) and John Joe (Bernard Hill) are two long-estranged brothers who find themselves reunited at an Irish music festival. The brothers are both bandleaders, competing in the Ceili music category; Jimmy's band is made up of boys from Liverpool, whose adorably moppy hair indicates that the film is set sometime in the '60s. When the cutest boy in Jimmy's band (Shaun Evans) catches sight of the pretty girl in John Joe's band (Andrea Corr), an extremely aw-shucks love story ensues, saved from banality only by the colorful backdrop of Irish folk dancin', cussin', and drinkin' endless pints of Guinness. If nothing else, this charming but forgettable movie will make you feel less self-conscious about your own drinking problem. (Alison Hallett) Fox Tower 10


Bride & Prejudice Gurinder Chadha, the director of Bend It Like Beckham, has revamped Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice with a Bollywood aesthetic. If the finger-snappin' music and over-the-top dance numbers aren't enough to distract you, there are also elephants, gospel singers, a cobra dance, and that chick from Gilmore Girls. (Alison Hallett) Westgate , Broadway Metroplex


Ballad of Jack and Rose Taking up the thin line between familial and romantic love, The Ballad of Jack and Rose is not nearly as creepy or sordid as one might think. Inhabiting an old commune, the handsome, rugged father (Daniel Day-Lewis) and angel-faced adolescent daughter (Camilla Belle) toil in post-hippie paradise while classic folk rock accompanies them on the soundtrack. The ballad is rich with incident--it's touching, anguished, disturbing, strange, and occasionally hilarious. (Marjorie Skinner) Fox Tower 10 , City Center 12


Born Into Brothels Rare is the documentary that feels too short, but this wrenching look at kids growing up within the squalid red-light sector of India begs for a more detailed exploration. Filmed in an arresting mix of handheld video and Kodachrome stills, the film follows the efforts of co-director/photographer Zana Briski to save the children of Calcutta's sex workers, initially by encouraging their photographic skills, then by navigating through unbelievable levels of bureaucratic quicksand. Briski's struggle is worthy of sainthood, but her resulting document, after an absolutely engrossing first reel, follows a slightly frustrating route. Unintentionally or not, as she concentrates increasingly on getting passports and HIV tests processed, the focus shifts to a more conventional individual vs. the system story, and away from the fairly miraculous day-to-day existence of the kids, where it feels like it belongs. (Andrew Wright)Fox Tower 10


Buffalo Boy 15-year-old Kim (The Lu Le) is charged with herding the family's water buffaloes to the mountains. Meeting up with some fiercely independent, violent, and hard-drinkin' buffalo keepers, Kim has to decide whether to live as a nomad or stay true to his family. Guild


The Chorus In The Chorus, the French take on a favorite American theme--dedicated teacher turns society's outcasts into the upright citizens of tomorrow (see: Sister Acts I and II, The Mighty Ducks I, II, and III, etc.). Sure, it's cheesy--but it's French cheese: stinky, unpasteurized and tasty, without the plastic, mass-produced quality of most American shit. (Alison Hallett) Mission Theater ,Hollywood Theatre


Dear Frankie The adjective "heartwearming" is pretty much a curse at this point, thanks to maudlin, simplistic tearjerkers targeted at the Oprah crowd--so it's a nice suprise that Dear Frankie is both "heartwarming" and "good." Frankie (Jack McElhone) is a deaf boy who's constantly on the move with his young mother, Lizzie (Emily Mortimer). The one constant in Frankie's life are loving letters from his dad, who travels the world as a sailor. Turns out, however, that it's really Lizzie who writes the letters--and when the ship Frankie's dad supposedly sails on comes into town, Lizzie has to find someone to pretend to be the perfect dad. It's smarter and more moving than it sounds, and that's coming from a cynical asshole who would just as soon kill a kitten as look at it--shit, even I felt my wee black heart raise its temperature by a few degrees. (Erik Henriksen) Fox Tower 10


Downfall An epic film taking place in Hitler's Berlin bunker, in the last days before the end of the war and his suicide. Much like taking a short trip into one of the circles of Hell, it's a cement-filled world teeming with Nazis who know they have lost, who are getting drunk, planning their suicides, and painfully watching their Fuhrer descend further into failure, frailty, desperation, and rage. Although nightmarish, it's a fascinating, microscopic portrait of a mere snatch of WWII history, vividly depicting the bleakness of a ruined Berlin. Downfall's characters are horrifying, sympathetic, and irrational--and as fascinating as the film itself. (Marjorie Skinner) Fox Tower 10, City Center 12


Dust to Glory An uneven documentary about the no-holds-barred, off-road race the Baja 1000. As directed and narrated by Dana Brown, though, its highs (spectacular footage, moving stories of the racers) make up for its lows (overbearing narration, some sappy music that'd be more at home at the end of a Full House episode). Brown--whose previous film was the surfing doc Step Into Liquid--captures the grit, speed, and daring of the Baja 1000's racers, who race an ever-changing course in vehicles that range from multi-million dollar trophy trucks to unmodified, pre-1982 Volkswagen Beetles. Motorcycles, quads, buggies--all of them are pushed through rock, sand, silt, and thousands of way-too-close-for-comfort spectators in a brutal race that's as much about survival as it is about speed. (Erik Henriksen) Fox Tower 10


Fever Pitch Ben (the incorrigibly grating Jimmy Fallon) is a teacher whose life is dominated by his love for the Red Sox. But when he hooks up with Lindsey (the ineffably angelic Drew Barrymore), things get rough--Lindsey's a baseball neophyte, and justifiably freaked out by Ben's fandom.Pretend you're a Red Sox fan, and think of Fever Pitch as one of the Sox's pre-'04 seasons: You have a bad hunch about how predictably disappointing it'll turn out, but that doesn't necessarily make it any less enjoyable. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.


Fight Club A disenfranchised guy (Edward Norton) hooked on support groups for the terminally ill gets a grade-school crush on a fellow support group tourist (Helena Bonham Carter), then meets a rebel (Brad Pitt) with whom he starts a masochistic fight club. That's when the story spins way over the top--the movie may be two and a half hours long, but it ies by. (Andy Spletzer) Laurelhurst


Filmed by Bike III 13 films on bike culture from Portland and other bike-friendly environs. A celebration of creative bike culture, all the proceeds from the event benefit the Multnomah County Bike Fair. Clinton Street Theater


Finding Neverland To be fair, Finding Neverland is a pretty decent film. It's not bad at what it attempts--indeed, at times it's damn near skillful and clever in its technique and imagination--it's just that its heavy-handed attempts to be Oscar-worthy are so transparent that they prevent the film from ever becoming an entity in and of itself. (Erik Henriksen) Avalon , Laurelhurst , Bagdad Theater


Fuse Two years after their civil war, Serbs and Muslims try to get along in a small Bosnian village... all while preparing for a visit from Bill Clinton. Guild


Goto+Play Film Festival Running through April at PushDot Studio, the Goto+Play Film Festival is an art installation featuring wall-sized projections of animation and other types of work from motion graphic artists. 20 artists contributed to the promising-sounding installation, including Portland-area video artists. Plus, admission is free, which means you'll not only save money by checking this out (instead of, say, coughing up $10 to see Sahara), but you'll also feel all art-ified. PushDot Studio


Hollow City A young orphan runs away from a missionary nun and begins to explore the large, unwelcoming city of Luanda, the capitol of Angola. Guild


In My Country Apartheid is over, and instead of giving the chair to all those white bastards who ran the oppressive system, Nelson Mandela's government holds "truth trials," where the white perpetrators of brutality must face their black victims in order to be granted political amnesty. Covering the hearings for The Washington Post is Langston Whitfield (Samuel L. Jackson), who can't forgive his own country's racist past. But Whitfield's attitude changes as he enters the psyche of a madman--a former colonel of the old regime--and falls in love with an Afrikaner (Juliette Binoche) who's overcome with guilt for the crimes against humanity her white skin has come to represent. The well-depicted struggle of South Africans--white and black--to confront their roles in 30 years of violence makes In My Country a moving history lesson. (Andrea Chalupa)Fox Tower 10


Kabala Sadly, this film is not about red string bracelets, Ashton Kutcher, Madonna, or Britney Spears. Instead, it's about some West African village in drought, or something. Hey, maybe they should call Ashton! He could totally bring them some water! Whitsell Auditorium


The Land Has Eyes Viki (Sapeta Taito), a poor girl in the Fiji Islands, tries to find her way as British authorities make false accusations against her father. Rejecting the Christian colonial values, she finds inspiration in a myth about a warrior woman, once told to Viki by her father. Hollywood Theatre


Lili's Apron When Lili (Paula Ituriza) and Ramón (Luis Ziembrowsky) lose their jobs, Ramón's forced to go all Mrs. Doubtfire and be a live-in maid for a wealthy family. Guild


Loco Fever Two swindlers come to the tiny town of Puerto Loco wanting to buy the entire catch of their legendary shellfish (loco) because of it's aphrodesiac qualities. The fish, however, is endangered, and the townspeople are only allowed to fish for it a few days a year. But the lure of money blinds them and soon prostitues and priests alike are playing into the hands of the con artists. Guild


A Lot in Common & Buy Organic The stinking hippies strike again with their "Think Globally, Eat Locally" film fest, this time with A Lot in Common: Community Gardens (Ha! Get it?!) and Beyond Organic: Community-Supported Agriculture. Fifth Avenue Cinemas


Meet the Feebles See review this issue. Clinton Street Theater


Melinda and Melinda Woody Allen's latest,has a promising premise: Two playwrights (Larry Pine and Wallace Shawn) discuss the situation of Melinda (Radha Mitchell), an unstable, travel-worn woman who unexpectedly arrives at her friends' Upper East Side apartment. One playwright envisions Melinda's background as a tragedy, while the other invents a comedy. Allen looks at both, and the film delineates the playwrights' respective takes, essentially making two films. Since he's been toying with comedies and tragedies for decades, Allen here has the perfect chance to capitalize on his proficiency in both genres. But while Melinda and Melinda is theoretically two Allen films for the price of one, its sum is far less than even one of Allen's past masterpieces. (Will Gardner) Fox Tower 10


The Merchant of Venice Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice is a troubled piece of work; somber strains run through its allegedly comedic plot like diseased veins, preventing it from entering the world of full-on whimsy. Director Michael Radford's film--starring Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons--doesn't make the play any less interminable to watch, but at least it depletes the silliness, weaving the contrasting tones of each element into a smooth blanket of solemnity. Radford has created a film of relentless consistency--an achievement both unique and impressive, if not particularly entertaining. (Justin Sanders) Laurelhurst


Millions The last thing one would expect from the director of Trainspotting and 28 Days Later is a warm family film, but Danny Boyle's tale of two young brothers (Alexander Nathan Etel and Lewis Owen McGibbon) who find a duffel bag stuffed with cash is remarkably enjoyable. Keeping the money secret from their widower father (James Nesbitt), one boy hallucinates Christian saints who urge him to donate the money, while the other delights in spending the cash. Ultimately, Millions becomes less about the money and more about the boys' splintered family; despite a retarded subplot about a criminal looking for the cash and some unforgivably sappy moments, Millions is definitely worthwhile. (Erik Henriksen) Fox Tower 10 , City Center 12 , Tigard Cinemas


Night of the Living Dead George Romero's classic zombie picture, featuring a lifetime's worth of glazed eyeballs and gore crammed into 90 minutes. Old Town Pizza


Night on Earth Jim Jarmusch tells five stories, all involving cab rides. Featuring Winona Rider and Gena Rowlands, and Roberto Benigni. Fifth Avenue Cinemas


Nobody Knows Nobody Knows is a simple and true story: Keiko is a self-centered party girl who (oops!) happens to be a mother to four children. Mysteriously absent for weeks on end, she leaves her oldest son in charge. Had an hour been lopped off the film's three-hour running time, Nobody Knows would be decently engaging. As it is, I couldn't make it through the whole film. (Phil Busse) Hollywood Theatre


Notre Musique Godard isn't for everyone, and his newest film is no exception. Notre Musique is divided into three sections: Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. Hell is a montage of images of violence; Purgatory, oddly, is Sarajevo, where Godard himself lectures on semiotics; Heaven appears to be a fenced island guarded by the U.S. military. As is to be expected, it's meticulously filmed, and for anyone who can stomach unfettered French intellectualism, offers an interesting take on the intersections of meaning and image, violence and identity. (Alison Hallett) Hollywood Theatre


Off the Map See review this issue. Cinema 21


The Red and the White Hungarian soldiers fight in Russia. BOO-YAH! PSU Smith Memorial Union


The Ring Two I really shouldn't recommend The Ring Two, because it's neither good nor scary. That said, it does have a hilarious scene in which a bunch of CG deer attack a Volkswagen Jetta--and you can bet your sweet ass you aren't going to see that in Million Dollar Baby or Hotel Rwanda. So c'mon! Get your ass to The Ring Two! It has deer! Attacking! (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.


Sahara It's never a good sign when all I can remember about a movie is the leading actor's mustache. But... there you have it. Sahara is one of those wisecracking, adrenaline-pumped thrill rides that Hollywood consistently makes, and consistently makes incorrectly. But ohhh... that mustache. That pervy, prickly, sexy-lookin' mustache. It's the thin, yet slightly bushy 'stache that is preferred by sex offenders around the globe, and therefore unavoidably attractive. It's why Burt Reynolds works, it's why Tom Selleck works, and now that Matthew McConaughey wears one, we can finally forget about his ceaseless string of awful movies, which naturally includes this one. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Oak Grove 8 Theater , Division Street , Broadway Metroplex , Century Eastport 16 , Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing , City Center 12 , Lloyd Cinemas , Movies on TV
, Vancouver Plaza, Sherwood 10, Evergreen Parkway , Hilltop , Wilsonville , Tigard Cinemas , Cinema 99


Schultze Gets the Blues Gently funny, this film is full of the sort of geriatric humor that ensues from putting a fat old German guy in an unfamiliar environment. (Marjorie Skinner) Fox Tower 10


Sideways Paul Giamatti plays Miles, a would-be writer who accompanies his best friend Jack (Thomas Haden Church) on a weeklong trip through California's wine country. While Sideways is enjoyable, it's ultimately unsatisfying--we watch as Miles and Jack are stripped of all their illusions, but we never find out what they're replaced with. (Alison Hallett) Fox Tower 10 , Westgate

Sin City A brilliantly creative, enormously cool piece of pop art; a film that has bigger balls, more fun, and a bigger heart than a year's worth of standard blockbusters. Based on Frank Miller's dark, pulpy, neo-noir graphic novels, and co-directed by Miller and action master Robert Rodriguez, the film isn't flawless (it's unerringly faithful to the comic, and at times, Rodriguez and Miller unintentionally demonstrate that what works in literature doesn't always work in cinema), but what Sin City gets right, it gets really fucking right. (Erik Henriksen) Lake Twin Cinema, Oak Grove 8 Theater , Lloyd Cinemas , City Center 12 , Movies on TV , Sherwood 10, Hilltop , Vancouver Plaza, Century Eastport 16 , Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing , St. Johns Theater , Roseway Theatre, Broadway Metroplex , Division Street , Evergreen Parkway , Wilsonville , Tigard Cinemas , Cinema 99


Talk to Her Talk to Her, Spain's camp bad boy Pedro Almódovar's latest lm, contains no drugs or sex, and I didn't even notice until it was over. That's because Almódovar has always trafcked in extreme emotions and the actions that spring from them. Actions and craziness often overshadow feelings in his earlier lms, but with Talk to Her, Almódovar gives us the most mature and deeply felt of his movies. (Nate Lippens ) Whitsell Auditorium


Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! See "Naughty Genius" on page 47. Whitsell Auditorium


Uniform A young tailor starts wearing a cop's uniform that was left in his shop, discovering that the clothing makes everything he experiences vastly different. Guild


The Upside of Anger The Upside of Anger makes an all-too-blatant grab for the award-friendly glory road well plowed by the likes of American Beauty and Terms of Endearment, yet is nearly redeemed by a cast that wrings out every last bit of potential from the formula. After being abandoned by her husband, a brittle housewife (Joan Allen, deliriously bitchy and never better) strikes up a boozy relationship with the scruffy ex-jock next door (Kevin Costner, finally at ease in his relaxed-fit Dockers, and with a shambling affability that makes his years adrift in the egocentric waterworld even more of a shame). Despite the xeroxed plot and a horribly misguided ending, filmmaker Mike Binder's film looks to have some serious legs (the preview audience went gonzo at every single wisecrack and heartstring pluck, to a degree I've rarely seen). Since you're going to eventually end up seeing it anyway, best to shrug off the flailing stabs at higher meaning and enjoy it for what it gets right: Two fine, yet often neglected, actors teeing off on a series of telegraphed pitches and repeatedly knocking the damned cover off of it. (Andrew Wright) Lloyd Cinemas , City Center 12 , Sherwood 10, Pioneer Place Stadium 6 , Century Eastport 16 , Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing , Evergreen Parkway , Tigard Cinemas


A Very Long Engagement A Very Long Engagement is directed by Amlie's Jean-Pierre Jeunet and it stars Amlie's Audrey Tautou, which is pretty much all you need to know. (Erik Henriksen) Laurelhurst


What's a Human Anyway? The phases of manhood in Turkey are explored through the story of a 35-year-old man living in a cramped urban apartment building. Whitsell Auditorium

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