Film

Random Buscemi

Succinct Reviews for the Discerning Cinephile

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Hot Rod

dir. Akiva Schaffer

Opens Fri Aug 3

Various Theaters

I fucking hate it when people—mostly eighth grade girls and anyone who is stupid—use the word "random" to mean "weird." Sometimes it refers to a person ("He is totally random!") or becomes an adverb ("I randomly ate some frozen yogurt!"). Sorry, what? Your words mean nothing. Stop talking to me, please.

At the screening of Hot Rod, a loud idiot sat behind me. He declared the movie to be "so random!" at least five times. He loved it.

Rod Kimble (Andy Samberg), aspiring stuntman, yearns to win the respect of his dying stepdad, Frank (Ian McShane), through hand-to-hand combat ("Ultimate punch!"). Samberg's faux-stache and shaggy bravado are charming, and his cronies have their moments. An excellently douchey Will Arnett is squandered—oh, heartbreak!—with only about 15 seconds of screen time. (His best line: "I'm gonna get a Vitamin Water. Should I make that dos?")

But the silly kills the funny. Every time things get rolling, some guy starts doing a ridiculous dance for no reason. Or Rod and his brother incessantly repeat the words "cool beans." Or Ebenezer Scrooge appears. "What the fuck is Ebenezer Scrooge?" yelled the loud idiot behind me, "That is SO RANDOM!" Ugh. Shut up. (But I can't disagree.) LINDY WEST

Interview

dir. Steve Buscemi

Opens Fri Aug 3

Cinema 21

In Interview, Steve Buscemi writes, directs, and stars: a dangerous game. A director who is directing themselves in something they've written has no system of checks and balances, no outside eye to peek in and say something like, oh, maybe, "Hey Steve, is it really plausible that a guy like you would wind up making out with a girl like Sienna Miller? Really?"

Miller's character, Katya, is a massively famous tabloid starlet. Buscemi's Pierre Peders (worst character name ever) is a jaded, weird-looking, middle-aged journalist. In the opening scene, Peders interviews Katya over dinner—an assignment he resents because he yearns to cover the hard-hitting political scene in DC. This scene is the only riveting moment of the film, as Miller does a fine job of playing a pampered star not used to being treated with such irreverence.

Then, ridiculously, this desiccated fellow winds up in Katya's stunning loft apartment. Cue the slow, booze-fueled revealing of dark secrets, capped off by a ridiculous snap-twist ending. Buscemi directs in that aimless handheld style that's all the rage, but the cinéma vérité thing doesn't jibe with the script's fantastical plot. Two people on a static set for 90 minutes feels like a play, and Interview has the melodramatic sweep of live theater, but Buscemi tries to stuff it into a box of gritty realism. It's a tight squeeze. JUSTIN W. SANDERS

Towncraft

dir. Richard Matson

Mon Aug 6-Tues Aug 7

Clinton St. Theater

A perfect complement to this weekend's all-ages PDX Pop Now! festival, Towncraft documents young go-getters in Little Rock, Arkansas who created a vibrant music scene in the late-'80s to mid-'90s. With nothing but a few cheap guitars and a love of punk, a group of teenagers started a large community of musicians that still thrives today—all the while juggling junior high and high school classes.

I was a bit nervous about listening to a bunch of 30-year-olds rehash their days of punk yore for 108 minutes—but the heart of the film isn't about the music, it's about the surprising community of DIY fortitude that sprung up in a short amount of time and with vast amounts of passion. The film starts out slow, but builds to reveal a scene of industrious Little Rockers that made me—someone who wasn't even there—nostalgic. If the notion of hundreds of teenagers building their own all-ages club, starting a record store, writing zines, broadcasting their own radio show, and creating a record label all before the age of 17 doesn't give you hope for Portland's all-ages scene, then you must be one cold-hearted bastard. COURTNEY FERGUSON

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