Art School Confidential
Director Terry Zwigoff and comic artist/writer Daniel Clowes explore post-adolescent ennui in this adaptation of Clowes' frequently hilarious (and uncannily accurate) satire of art school pretension. I spent the first half of the movie thinking that this would certainly be the best comedy of 2006—and then, the second half struck. There's no accounting for how far off the tracks Confidential gets; instead of hilarious satire, Clowes and Zwigoff serve up bad subplots and histrionic protagonists. Seems like these two need to go back (wait for it) to the drawing board! (Chas Bowie) Academy Theater, Laurelhurst, Mission Theater, Kennedy School, St. Johns Pub
Bandits vs. Samurai Squadron
Samurai hijinx! Whitsell Auditorium
Better Off Dead
John Cusack ponders suicide, avoids the creepy paper boy, and skis the K-2 in this 1985 classic. Screening as a benefit for the Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary. The Artistery
See Feature, pg. 13. Regal Cinemas, etc.
Click is a movie about what happens when Adam Sandler gets a remote control that lets him control his life—he can fast-forward through fights with his wife, or turn down the volume on his barking dog. I can hear critics' lame swipes already: "You'll wish you could fast-forward through this movie!" "If only we could rewind to when Adam Sandler was in good movies!" "You'll want to change the channel as soon as this movie starts!" Stupid as they are, all those comments are true. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
No, not last year's overrated flick—this is David Cronenberg's erotic car crash/fetish film from 1997. Fifth Avenue Cinemas
The Dark Side of the Rainbow
Whoa, dude! It's The Wizard of Oz, played to the soundtrack of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon! Weird! Trippy! So... weird! Man... if we were, like, 14-year-old stoners, we'd totally be there, man! Clinton Street Theater
The Devil Wears Prada
First, the clothes: The Devil Wears Prada's costume designer, Patricia Field, sails in on her Sex and the City cred to whip up a populist but appealing parade of sartorial eye candy (which, interestingly, turns out to be very much in the vein of what Teen Vogue was doing in last year's "Back to School" issue, but with higher heels). As for the film itself, it's as fresh faced and middling as you would imagine, given its basis in a chick-lit story by Lauren Weisberger, whose novel is a pseudo-biographical tell-all about Condé Nast-y's queen bee, Vogue Editor Anna Wintour (Meryl Streep). (Marjorie Skinner) Regal Cinemas, etc.
District B 13
France's District B 13 is probably the first film to combine George Orwell, parkour, and kung fu, but what's more surprising than that unlikely amalgamation is how well it works. (Erik Henriksen) Laurelhurst
Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties
It's funny how sometimes just looking at a title can cause physical pain. Avalon, Milwaukie Cinema, Kennedy School
The Great Yokai War
If I was a kid, I would be terrified. The prolific/talented/predictably unpredictable Takashi Miike's latest is ostensibly a kids' fantasy film, but Jesus Christ—even by Miike's fairly insane standards, this is some weird-ass shit. It's easiest to split it up into all the bits of cultural detritus that Miike gathers here and then vomits up: Hayao Miyazaki, The Wizard of Oz, Labyrinth/The Dark Crystal, Looney Tunes, Tim Burton, Tolkien, Rowling, Spielberg, The Terminator, Ghostbusters II, Godzilla, Saturday morning cartoons/commercials, plenty of puppetry and CG and makeup, and, oh yeah, demonic, transforming motorcycles. Also: hamsters. Plot-wise, The Great Yokai War is about a whiny little kid who somehow gets superpowers and has to fight with a bunch of Muppets against evil technology, but with Miike's tone at once epic and hyperactive, everything here is so intentionally mish-mashed that it's impossible to keep much interest—in creating a world that's so weird, creepy, and untethered, it's impossible for the viewer to feel any connection whatsoever. But as crazy eye-candy goes—or if you're just in the mood for some batshit crazy juvenile fantasy or need a Miike fix—Yokai probably won't disappoint. (Erik Henriksen) Clinton Street Theater
The Heart of the Game
The Roosevelt Roughriders—a Seattle high school girls' basketball team—spent seven years under quirky new coach Bill Resler, trying to win the state championship. They face plenty of adversity along the way: A tough cross-town rival, the Garfield Bulldogs, crushing first round losses in the championship tournament, intra-team squabbles, and a state interscholastic association that tried to bar the team's star player, Darnelia Russell, from rejoining the team after she skipped a year of school to have a baby. A sports documentary that bears a striking resemblance to Hoop Dreams, The Heart of the Game is amazing, thanks to the obvious dedication of Resler and the talented band of kickass young women he inspired. (Amy Jenniges) Fox Tower 10
An Inconvenient Truth
An Inconvenient Truth is workmanlike and clumsy at times—but it's also hugely invigorating. Tracking Al Gore's global-warming lecture as he schleps his Apple laptop across the country and to China, it's a collection of scientific facts and correlations made urgent through human drama and low-tech slide-show magic. It should be required viewing for every American citizen. And if it kicks up a storm of speculation regarding Al Gore's political prospects in 2008? So much the better. (Annie Wagner) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Gael García Bernal plays Elvis, a young man fresh out of the Navy. Heading to Corpus Christi, Texas, he tracks down someone he's never met: his father, David Sandow (Hurt). But David is now a pastor, and he callously blows off Elvis' hopeful gestures, claiming he fathered Elvis "before I became a Christian." Content, David retreats back to his family and his routine—unaware that the single-minded, fervent Elvis can't let things go so easily. Fifteen minutes into The King, I realized I was probably watching one of the best films I'd see all year. That resolution didn't quite hold up—The King squanders a bit of its potential with a final act that doesn't quite click—but regardless, it's still one of the most riveting, intense, and disquieting films in recent memory. (Erik Henriksen) Hollywood Theatre
Lady in the Water
See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man
A superfluous big-screen tribute to the enigmatic croaker that vacillates between compelling Cohen interviews (the good); banal, somehow self-congratulatory musings from Bono (the bad); and live performances from a well-meaning, if questionably executed, 2005 Australian tribute concert (the unnecessary). These disparate elements are given thread by first-time director Lian Lunson's awkwardly heavy-handed editing choices, and conclude in a strangely anticlimactic (and clearly lip-synched) studio performance featuring Cohen backed by the members of U2. (An aside: How fucking arrogant does a person have to be to wear sunglasses when you're backing Leonard Cohen? Answer: Bono arrogant.) (Zac Pennington) Fox Tower 10
Dude, if I was a midget, I'd be just like Little Man. Think about it: (1)His penis is normal size, which must look huge on that toddler body. (2)Diapers. (3)People underestimate your intelligence all the time, making it very easy to hit them over their heads with frying pans. (4)Nobody suspects you of stealing baseball-sized diamonds. (5)"Baby like nursy nursy." (Chas Bowie) Regal Cinemas, etc.
So there's this woman and her husband and they build a house, but then she dies in the heart of it so the house is scary and it has a heart, and a chimney with smoke that comes out of it, and a big mouth. It has legs and arms and walks around, and these kids go in with a key but then it's pretty scary. Yeah, I liked this movie! You should go see it! But it was pretty scary. I had to hold my dad's hand for a lot of it. (Kayla, the Mercury's resident six-year-old) Regal Cinemas, etc.
My Super Ex-Girlfriend
Uma Thurman plays a superhero who gets dumped by Luke Wilson. Luke Wilson, thou art a fool. The film screened after our deadline, so hit portlandmercury.com on Friday, July 21, for our review. Regal Cinemas, etc.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Second verse, same as the first: Just like the first Pirates, this is big, messy, loud, nonsensical, pretty, fast, fun stuff. I mean, there's a fucking awesome giant sea monster! And: There are undead pirates who sail underneath the waves, who—thanks to some pretty amazing CG and make-up—have physically melded with creepy sea creatures. And: ludicrous, Looney Tunes-worthy action sequences, Johnny Depp's inimitable charm, and a balls-out, near-perfect mix of action and comedy. Yeah, not all of it works, but that's kind of the point. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
A selection from the Northwest Film Center's press release for this event: "Exposé has little claim on the real facts (or great cinema) but its nostalgic vistas, local references, and low-budget melodrama provide a curious, if not amusing, glimpse of Portland 50 years ago." Wow. Sounds like they're pretty stoked about the movie, huh? Hotel deLuxe
A Prairie Home Companion
Back when The Simpsons was funny, they had a great gag about PBS' A Prairie Home Companion, hosted by Garrison Keillor. Homer, et al., were sitting on the couch, watching Keillor tell his supposedly comedic stories. Stone-faced, the Simpsons couldn't figure out why the TV audience was in fits over Keillor; finally, Homer stood up and banged on the TV: "Be more funny!" he shouted, confused and angry. So let's give Homer the benefit of the doubt: If broken technology is why A Prairie Home Companion is so dull on PBS (and equally so on NPR), then that means there are a whole bunch of lousy projectors in America's movie theaters—because Robert Altman's A Prairie Home Companion film is even duller. (Erik Henriksen) Hollywood Theatre, Cinemagic
The Wild Bunch set in the Australian outback, The Proposition is a grisly, fly-infested nightmare of violence and revenge. Though unrelentingly dour, the acting and cinematography is reason enough to see the "anti-feel good movie of the year." (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Academy Theater, Hollywood Theatre
The Puffy Chair
An amalgamation of Garden State and... well, any road-trip movie you've ever seen, The Puffy Chair is a late-20s quarter-life crisis journey. Which, I know, sounds like it'd be awful to sit through. Okay, let me start over: This film is cute, yet bittersweet, pulling off 20-something angst in a genuine, lighthearted (yet not irreverent) fashion. (Amy Jenniges) Fox Tower 10
Norman Jewison's 1975 Rollerball is little more than an anti-corporate relic, hysterically bad outside of the rink, tremendously exciting inside the rink. Sad thing is, it's way better than John McTiernan's 2002 remake, which is a colossal piece of shit. (Bradley Steinbacher) Laurelhurst
See film short for Bandits vs. Samurai Squadron. Whitsell Auditorium
A Scanner Darkly
Philip K. Dick's writing is some seriously whacked-out stuff, happily walking a tightrope between comprehension and confusion, and veering into philosophic acrobatics as comfortably as it does visceral blows. Richard Linklater's note-by-note screenplay adaptation of his novel and inspired visuals nail Dick's fascinating plot and unsettling tone—throw in some dead-on performances, a soundtrack that flows with the prickly, urgent, and moving strains of Radiohead, and, for all its otherworldliness, A Scanner Darkly feels damningly prescient and tangible. (Erik Henriksen) Fox Tower 10
Strangers with Candy
For those just joining us, Strangers was a wickedly funny show that ran on Comedy Central for three seasons. It featured the talents of David Sedaris' funnier sister, Amy, as ex-crack whore Jerri Blank who returns after a stint in prison to finish high school. A clear parody of the ABC After-School Specials, Strangers put a hilarious spin on such heavy teen issues as drug abuse, body image, and mental retardation. Though barely watched by mainstream America, Strangers was an absolute hit on the fringe, with pickle-jar tight direction, and an average of three laugh-out-loud jokes per minute. Which makes it really uncomfortable for me to relay the news that the Strangers with Candy movie... well... kind of sucks. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Fox Tower 10
There are some unforgettable, breathtaking moments in Bryan Singer's mega-expensive, mega-hyped redux of the Man of Steel—all the pieces are here, and in bits, Superman Returns works quite well. But when Singer combines these elements, his film never manages to gel: The script ebbs and flows with lame plot devices and needless characters; it's easily 15 minutes too long; and it ends with an unsatisfying whimper. And, when all's said and done, Superman remains a distant, untouchable outsider—like Singer's film, he fails to summon much enthusiasm, in spite of all his unforgettable, breathtaking feats. (Erik Henriksen) Regal Cinemas, etc.
The Syrian Bride
In The Syrian Bride, we're set down in a village on the Israel/Syria border that's populated by Syrians whose nationalities under Israeli control are listed as "undefined." With an Israeli/Palestinian filmmaking team, we're given a beautifully articulated essay about how nationality is meaningless and transient but—just the same—capable of fucking up folks' lives in a major way. The well-written story of an arranged marriage takes a backseat to themes of political tension, mindless bureaucracy, and borders, and the weird juxtaposition of a people trying their best to be modern and open-minded while not clashing with religious custom. (Adam Gnade) Whitsell Auditorium
Tibet: A Buddhist Trilogy
1979's documentary about the Phulwary Skya Monastery in Tibet, and "how the monastery deals with a death among its ranks." Cinema 21
A Union Man: The Life and Work of JuLius Margolin
An hour-long documentary about Julius Margolin, an 89-year-old activist. Filmmaker George Mann and Margolin will be present at the screening for a Q&A and a "concert of labor and folk classics." Clinton Street Theater
Werner Herzog Film Festival
See Film, pg. 45. Cinema 21
When Do We Eat?
When Do We Eat? chronicles a Jewish family's Passover supper, and in 90 minutes it aims to tackle autism, mid-life crises, fundamentalism, drug use/addiction, extra-marital dalliance and reconciliation, inter-racial lesbianism, incest, oh, and yes, the Holocaust. It's also overly ambitious, undisciplined, badly edited, and way too long. The part with the Hasidic guy boning his cousin ("Fuck it, I'll atone at Yom Kippur") was pretty funny, but When the Hell is this Over? would definitely be a better title. (Matt Davis) Hollywood Theatre
Who Killed the Electric Car?
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10
There's no other way to say it: Crossword fanatics are some of the biggest nerds to ever walk the Earth. Which makes them the perfect subjects for a documentary. And that documentary is Wordplay, a shockingly entertaining film about the phenomenon of crossword obsession—featuring celebrities, puzzle writers, and world champions. (Scott Moore) Fox Tower 10
You, Me and Dupree
Generally speaking, I can find something good to say about any movie—no matter how profoundly it may stink. But You, Me and Dupree is such a fetid morass of mediocrity that it's beaten even me—Mr. "There's a Rainbow Around Every Corner." Wait... You know what? Goddammit, I'm not gonna let this film beat me. I'm going to push my optimism to its limit to locate one iota of worthiness in this reeking sieve. Why? Because in my heart, I refuse to believe a studio would put out something this bad without including at least one sliver of entertainment. Hold on... I GOT IT. Kate Hudson prances around in her underwear—TWICE. Whew. I thought for sure I'd completely wasted my time. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Regal Cinemas, etc.