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Film Shorts

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recommended American Gangster
See review. Various Theaters.

Bee Movie
Post-Seinfeld, Larry David went on to make Curb Your Enthusiasm. Jerry Seinfeld, on the other hand, went on to voice a bumblebee in a terrible-looking kids' movie. Huh. Various Theaters.

recommended Body of War
While Congress debates the cost of the Iraq War with President Bush in terms of dollars, the real cost is being paid by the servicemen and women who are fighting the dumb war. Phil Donahue (!) does everything he can to remind us of this fact in Body of War, a documentary that follows the post-war life of Tomas Young, who became a paraplegic when a bullet shattered his spinal column. Young becomes an outspoken critic of not just the war, but of the country's treatment of permanently injured soldiers when they return. It's a moving piece of work, if a little strong-handed at times (this is Donahue, after all). What almost sinks the film, though, is the embarrassing soundtrack by a solo Eddie Vedder, armed with an acoustic guitar and awful folk lyrics. SCOTT MOORE Hollywood Theatre.

recommended Brazil
Terry Gilliam's 1985 distopian classic. Laurelhurst.

recommended Cartune Xprez
A collection of animations from local and international cartoonists, ranging from Bruce Bickford's silently morphing line drawings to Amy Lockhart's whismical yet faintly vulgar cartoon creatures to Joanna Priestley's saccharine and adorable "CandyJam," featuring candy dancing girls and flesh-eating M&Ms. It's an incredibly varied but almost always entertaining selection, and it's definitely worth checking out if you missed it at TBA a few months back. ALISON HALLETT Clinton Street Theater.

Cinekink
Does anyone really want to watch "works that cut across orientations to celebrate and explore a wide diversity of sexuality"? Hell no! People want to watch porn about whatever specific pervy fetish they have, not whatever generalized pervy fetish other people have! (Hence the reason the Sweet 36DD Jugs A'Plenty series is on its 43rd entry, while Big Ol' Grab Bag of Creepy Fetishes That You're Probably Not Into at All and That Will Probably Make You Fairly to Extremely Uncomfortable doesn't exist.) All the same: Enjoy, perverts! Clinton Street Theater.

recommended Cool School
Cool School is a restless, absorbing documentary about the art scene in 1950s Los Angeles, where ultracool bohemians like Ed Keinholz, Ed Ruscha, and Billy Al Bengston were carving out their own distinctive niche in American art, completely separate from New York's AbEx macho emo-fest. Paying particular attention to the legendary Ferus Gallery (who first showed Warhol's soup cans), Morgan Neville's doc is a great introduction/refresher to this unique slice of West Coast Cool. CHAS BOWIE Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.

Dan in Real Life
Exactly how much goodwill does Steve Carell think he's floating on? Following up a small series of unlikely successes (The Office, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Little Miss Sunshine) with the disastrous succession of Evan Almighty and this modest, middle-of-the-road trip, Carell (and, presumably, his overzealous agent) seems to have all too quickly slipped on the banana peel of relative credibility toward that great chasm of modern comedy: warm-hearted grandma pictures. ZAC PENNINGTON Various Theaters.

Desert Bayou
An awkward hybrid of Spike Lee's Hurricane Katrina doc When the Levees Broke and resettlement culture shock movies like Lost Boys of Sudan, Desert Bayou barely skims the surface of its toxic waters. I'm convinced there's a fascinating film to be made about the 600 mostly black New Orleans residents who were shipped—without their consent—to mostly white Utah in the days following Hurricane Katrina, but director Alex LeMay lacks the light touch and serious analysis needed to do it. ANNIE WAGNER Living Room Theaters.

Election Day
Voting fetishists rejoice! Director Katy Chevigny profiles "an eclectic group of voters on election day 2004." Yeah, that's how you like it! Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.

For Life Against the War
In 1967, a bunch of angry artists put together For Life Against the War, a collection of 60 short films "for life and against the war." Four decades later, a similar collection has been put together, with 26 new short films protesting a whole new war, called For Life Against the War... Again. Screens in two parts, on Tuesday and Wednesday. More info: cinemaproject.org. Cinema Project at New American Art Union.

recommended Lars and the Real Girl
Lars and the Real Girl is about a guy named Lars Lindstrom (Ryan Gosling, twitchy and earnest), who lives in a snowy town and is extremely freaked out. He is terminally awkward and unfailingly clad in sweat pants. Hugs feel like burning. One day, Lars announces to his family that he has a "visitor" coming to stay: "She's not from here." "She doesn't speak much English." "She's in a wheelchair, so I just don't want her to feel weird about it." "She's shy." Bianca, of course, is not a real person, but a Real Doll: one of those horrible fucking silicon things with dead eyes and welcoming orifices. The film is being marketed as a comedy, and the premise, obviously, should ooze absurdity. But Lars' funny bits are sympathetic, not cruel, and its silly plot goes down easy. LINDY WEST Various Theaters.

Lumo
A film about 20-year-old woman in eastern Congo who is rejected by her family after she's brutally assaulted by soldiers who leave her incontinent and possibly unable to give birth. (In other words: Looking for a good date movie? Bingo!) Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.

The Martian Child
See review. Various Theaters.

recommended Michael Clayton
On paper, it's nothing that we haven't seen before: A stereotypically villainous corporation hurts the little guy; our conflicted protagonist (George Clooney) has to figure out what to do. But that's where all the impressive names behind Michael Clayton—Clooney's, Steven Soderbergh's, Anthony Minghella's, Sydney Pollack's—come into play: An impressive cast, a good sense of production, and writer/director Tony Gilroy's solid direction allow Michael Clayton to take a John Grisham-y concept and amp it up. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.

The People Next Door
1970's anti-LSD film, featuring... Rue McClanahan? Okay, sure. Why not. Clinton Street Theater.

Reel Bad Arabs
A film about "how Hollywood vilifies a people," followed by a panel discussion on the issue. Panel followed by a screening of True Lies. Hollywood Theatre.

Sharkwater
See review. Hollywood Theatre.

Siren Nation Film Festival
The film portion of "a festival celebration of women, art, and community." Special guest Larry Flynt in attendance. Clinton Street Theater.

recommended Sleuth
See review. Various Theaters.

A Touch of Spice
See review. Living Room Theaters.

Tripping Through the Twilight Zone
Three episodes of the classic TV show: "A World of Difference," "The Other Place," and "And When the Sky Opened." Clinton Street Theater.

recommended Wristcutters: A Love Story
Working from a novella by cult writer Etgar Keret, director Goran Dukic posits a universe where all of the world's suicides are condemned to work dead-end jobs in a grayscale region of limbo. When a recent addition (Patrick Fugit) ventures into uncharted territories in search of an old girlfriend, he runs into a slew of eccentrics, including an emo hitchhiker (Shannyn Sossamon) who insists that she's there due to a clerical foul-up. Fugit and Sossamon are, admittedly, a shade pale as the leads, but they're more than compensated for by a superb supporting cast including John Hawkes, Will Arnett, and Tom Waits at his most beatifically craggled. The rate of invention does sputter a tad during the last act (right around the time when someone discovers a literal black hole under a car seat), but when it's cooking, Dukic's debut favorably recalls the all-too-brief post-Repo Man era, when the possibilities of indie film seemed head-bustingly limitless. ANDREW WRIGHT

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