Films in PDX: Jan. 29 – Feb. 5th

29 01 2009


Every February, Portland cinephiles gather up a stack of film schedules to map out which films they want to see during The Portland International Film Festival, which sometimes takes a whole weekend to map out. There are nearly EIGHTY films through which to navigate and the descriptions of the films are  equally enticing without any kind of objectivity. For someone such as myself, this causes tremendous anxiety because it makes me want to see every single film! But this year, I decided to simplify the decision making process by creating a web page displaying trailers for nearly every single film playing at this year’s festival. It’s always easier to gauge which films to see based on tone, perspective and image than by description and so hopefully, this will improve upon this year’s film fest experience for you.

By all means, let your film fest friends know about this site so they can take advantage of this valuable resource!!! Email each other about!


Having watched all the trailers for this year’s fest, I have to admit this is a very, very strong year! The Film Society of Lincoln Center annually publishes a list culled by over a hundred film critics nationwide of the best unreleased films from the previous year and at this year’s PIFF, there are FOURTEEN films playing at our pluvial little festival which made their list! Over the past ten years, we have been lucky if there are more than five on that list, so this year’s fest proves to be quite respectable! Here they are:

HUNGER Steve McQueen, U.K.
GOMORRAH Matteo Garrone, Italy
IL DIVO Paolo Sorrentino, Italy
24 CITY Jia Zhang-ke, China
TULPAN Sergey Dvortsevoy, Kazakhstan
OF TIME AND THE CITY Terence Davies, U.K.
SUGAR Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck, U.S.
TOKYO SONATA Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Japan
LORNA’S SILENCE Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, Belgium/France
TREELESS MOUNTAIN So Yong Kim, U.S./South Korea
GOODBYE SOLO Ramin Bahrani, U.S.
REVANCHE Revanche Götz Spielmann, Austria

That’s admittedly quite a list! Of all the films, I cannot stress enough just how great a breakthrough debut Steve McQueen’s HUNGER is. It’s unknown what kind of U.S. distribution this film will get, so DO NOT MISS IT. If you saw Carlos Reygadas’ SILENT LIGHT at last year’s festival, it’s of that caliber and must be seen on a big screen. Still, I can’t help but hang my head low because the festival did not acquire prints for The Headless Woman by Lucretia Martel, Still Walking by Hirokazu Kore-eda, Night and Day by Hong Sang-soo and Three Monkeys by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, but still I’m glad that this year’s festival has made up for the last two years of navel gazing programming.

In addition to this list of not-to-be-missed films are some new works by cinema veterans like Peter Greenaway’s NIGHTWATCHING, “the grandmother of the Nouvelle Vague”, Agnès Varda’s THE BEACHES OF AGNES (a film she claims to be her last) and Andrzej Wajda’s KATYN (NW Film Center will begin their Wajda’s retrospective March 6th, by the way).

A handful of films nominated for Academy Awards will be playing at this year’s festival. Up for Best Documentary is THE GARDEN (Scott Hamilton Kennedy, U.S.), Best Short Film (Live Action) are MANON ON THE ASPHALT (Elizabeth Marre & Oliver Pont, France) and TOYLAND (Jochen ALexander Freydank, Germany) and for Best Foreign Language Film, THE BAADER MEINHOF COMPLEX (Uli Edel, Germany) and REVANCHE (Götz Spielmann, Austria).

THE 32nd PORTLAND INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL plays from February 5th-21st. And the next evening, February 22nd is the 81st Annual Academy Awards!!!



Alright, folks! You can’t pass this opportunity up! I have TEN FREE TICKETS to Thursday night’s (that’s tomorrow) screening of THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY (Sergio Leone, 1967, Italy), starring Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach and Lee Van Cleef. They are showing the complete, unedited three hour version and it starts at 7PM at The Whitsell Auditorium.

SO if you want a ticket, write to me at the day of the screening.

For those younguns who need further convincing that this film is great…and it pains me to say this…Quentin Tarantino declared it his choice for the best film ever made.

So write to me if you want to take advantage of your one opportunity to see the greatest Spaghetti Western ever made on the big screen as it was intended to be seen FOR FREE! Write to me soon because these tickets won’t last!!!




Topping the success of THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY, Leone and composer Ennio Morricone reached new operatic heights in ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (Sergio Leone, 1968, Italy) starring Henry Fonda (who rarely ever plays the heavy), Charles Bronson, Jason Robards, and a smoldering Claudia Cardinale, penned by Leone, Italian horror master, Dario Argento (father of actress Asia Argento) and the great Bernardo Bertolucci.

Revenge-bent Bronson stalks kid-blasting villain Fonda with the aid of good-bad-man Jason Robards, as the railroad marches relentlessly westward through the land of hooker-turned-earth-mother Claudia Cardinale. ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST features one of Morricone’s greatest scores, which was written before shooting began: Leone choreographed the actors’ movements to the playback. “There is nothing like it. As coaxed and teased by Morricone’s twanging melange of slowed-down Neapolitan street songs, ye-ye, choral requiems, and Ventures guitar licks, the film is constantly readjusting its thermostat.”-J. Hoberman, Village Voice. ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST is a far more complex epic than Leone’s Good, Bad, Ugly saga and all the more special to see on the big screen.

Once Upon A Time In The West Trailer

ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST plays one night only, SUNDAY at 6:30PM at The Whitsell Auditorium.




Well, this is it! You’ve been waiting all month for this one! TRON (Steven Lisberger, 1982, U.S.), starring Jeff Bridges, David Warner, Cindy Morgan and Bernard Hughes is playing THIS WEEKEND ONLY at The Bagdad! What makes TRON so unique is its production design which is dark, elegant, luminous and reminiscent of Fritz Lang’s 1927 masterpiece, Metropolis. It also features an incredible soundtrack by MOOG synthesizer pioneer, Walter (now Wendy) Carlos…with end credits song by Journey!

IF YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN TRON, YOU GOTTA GO. SERIOUSLY. The acting and the writing is a bit to be desired, but just remember this was a film made by Disney so just go for the ride…and maybe take some drugs first.


TRON plays Friday at 5:15pm, Saturday at 2pm, 5:15pm and late night at 11pm (mention you read Willamette Week, and pay half price) and lastly after the Super Bowl at 8pm.

DISCLAIMER: Last Friday, I went to The Bagdad’s late night screening of Alien. Firstly, the evening began with a DVD projection of Educational Archives: Social Engineering, which is a compilation of far out and groovy industrials films from the Sixties and Seventies and is on the whole quite amusing, but right in the middle of one of the films, they simply turned it off and started the film, which to be honest, is really poor projectionist etiquette. Why would you bother showing a film and then just turn it off?

Secondly, they didn’t show a film print but a fucking DVD!!! If you’ve been following PDXFilm for the past year, you know how much this PISSES ME OFF! If a theater is going to project a DVD, the person at the door should AT LEAST say so. Moreover, it is ILLEGAL to exhibit a DVD for money without consent of the distributor. NEVER, EVER pay to see a DVD at a cinema! You are getting ripped off and the cinema is trying to take advantage of you!

Assuming best intent, I called the manager at The Bagdad, and they explained that they did in fact get the film print but chose not to screen it because the DVD looked better, which by the way, is entirely subjective. When I asked her whether TRON would be a film print, she said yes but since they received a film print of Alien and instead showed a DVD, it’s hard to know what they will show. Again, don’t support this kind of shenanigans. Unfortunately, The Bagdad is a drinking establishment first and a cinema second and is subsequently (and sadly) the disgrace of cinemas in Portland. Go to drink crap beer, not for the love of cinema.

By the way, if you don’t believe me about this DVD business, if they do show a video, sit anywhere in the first ten rows and you’re going to see video noise. Even the worst, crackliest film print is better than a DVD, which was a format never designed to be projected on a 100 foot screen. A thirteen inch television, yes, but that’s it.




Playing the same late night as TRON, The Grindhouse Festival (which has waaaaaay more integrity and reliably for showing 35mm film prints than The Bagdad’s Supertrash) presents a double feature of BODIES BEAR TRACES OF CARNAL VIOLENCE aka TORSO (Sergio Martino, 1973, Italy) followed by ONE THOUSAND CRIES HAS THE NIGHT aka PIECES (Juan Piquer Simón, 1983, U.S./Spain/Puerto Rico).

I’m not going to try to convince you to see this stuff. Either you’re into it, or your not. Quite honestly, grindhouse is these days the equivalent of cinema punk rock. It’s raw, amateurly made, a bunch of geezers making a loud noise for cheap thrills and then it’s over. I can’t think of a better way to spend my Saturday night.


Torso Trailer


Pieces Trailer


The Grindhouse Double Feature of TORSO and PIECES plays Saturday night ONLY at 7:45PM at The Hollywood Theatre. Tickets for both films is seven bucks.



The Fifth Avenue Cinema at PSU this weekend only is the documentary MY BEST FIEND (Werner Herzog, 1999, Germany). “Director Werner Herzog’s lively documentary about his longtime working relationship with mercurial actor Klaus Kinski, is a fascinating film which captures the deranged dialectic of creativity in extraordinary fashion. Over a 15-year span, these two artists-neither of them shrinking violets-teamed up for five pictures: Aguirre, The Wrath of God, Nosferatu, Woyzeck, Fitzcarraldo and Cobra Verde. Their battles, fierce and sometimes life-threatening, have already entered the ranks of cinema lore and might have gone on for another 15 years or longer, had Kinski not died in 1991. My Best Fiend is a genuine love/hate portrait of Kinski that acknowledges his acting talent but doesn’t hesitate to capture his notorious behavior. Meanwhile, Claudia Cardinale, who starred with Kinski in Fitzcarraldo, paints a glowing portrait of the actor and Eva Mattes, who appeared with him in Woyzeck, recalls him as a helpful colleague. More than likely, Kinski had charm off-screen, but saved his best venom for Herzog, who returned it in kind. That ambivalence is reflected in two sequences in My Best Fiend. One shows Herzog and Kinski hugging each other and laughing during a reunion at the Telluride Film Festival. The other reveals Kinski looking into the camera as a lovely butterfly alights on his hand, then on his face. It’s a charming moment and Herzog has the grace to make it the documentary’s final and most arresting image.”


My Best Fiend Trailer

MY BEST FIEND plays Friday and Saturday at 7pm and 9:30pm, and Sunday at 3pm at Fifth Avenue Cinema. PSU students get free admission, the rest of us it’s only THREE BUCKS with free popcorn for all!




A great animated documentary which swept at last year’s Cannes finally comes to Portland, WALTZ WITH BASHIR (Ari Folman, Israel). See it before you get bogged down with all the other great international films at this year’s festival. It’s hypnotic, original and won a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film, Best Picture from The National Society of Film Critics, six Israeli Academy Awards and nominated for Best Foreign Film at this year’s Oscars.






And lastly, for those of you lusting to sneak a peek at what the infamous RED Camera can do (if you want to learn more about RED, just send me an email), a remake of the 1981 Canadian horror classic, MY BLOODY VALENTINE (Patrick Lussier, U.S.) is playing at select theaters. But be forewarned, you may lose an eye from a pick axe!


Be aware that some theaters, like The Broadway Metroplex, are showing a film print struck from the original digital intermediate, while other theaters, like Lloyd Center and Cinetopia, are showing digital video projection. There is some advantage to seeing the latter because the film was designed to be seen on video in 3-D, and yes, you get to wear the special glasses. Also be aware, that the theaters showing the 3-D video projection may not all be equipped with the best projectors for this technology. For best results, find a theater that advertises RealD 3D and not Digital 3D, which only shows parts in 3-D. So if you really want to see what the RED Cameras can do when strapped together, go to a RealD 3D screening.

Or you could wait until Soderbergh’s four hour CHE comes out.. So 3-D or four hours. Up to you.


Again, you can CLICK HERE to visit the PIFF Trailers Page and enjoy your week at the cinema!




Films in PDX: Jan. 21st – Jan. 29th

20 01 2009

First and foremost, HAPPY 63rd BIRTHDAY, DAVID LYNCH!!!

Now down to business…The 32nd Portland International Film Festival launches February 5th! Yes, that’s right, it’s the one month of the year when foreign films play in Portland. Sad to think that there was a time when foreign films made up more than three percent of the U.S. box office. Don’t believe me? According to the New York Times, in 2005, only ten foreign language films had ticket sales of more than $1 million nationwide and according to a 2007 report by the U.S. Department of Commerce, foreign films make up only 3% of movie theater revenue in the U.S. Pretty depressing, ain’t it?

But like I said, February is the one month of the year when you can see films that are made outside of the U.S. That said, The Portland International Film Festival at best is a Reader’s Digest version of the international festivals that actually have an impact. PIFF kind of pecks and hunts through what played at Berlin and Cannes and Toronto and Venice and all the rest of the international fests, but never does the festival discover a film or filmmaker. But a thirsty man refuses no drink, so we take what we can get.

Even still, the festival has a reputation of not seeking the best of these festivals, but rather catering to a very specific demographic of blue haired retirees, who grew up during the reign of the art house cinema and are willing to invest $250 for an annual Silver Screen Membership every year, by selecting sentimental, cloying, formulaic international films. Now I personally feel that people over the age of sixty are interested and capable of appreciating challenging cinema, the kind to which they were exposed during the post World War II era when the art film was at its peak, as well as throughout the Sixties, and not films that placate and pacify, but then again I’m not an ageist. Great cinema transcends age and furthermore, aging doesn’t automatically mean that a person becomes less angry, concerned or passionate about the very X-rated state of the world, but I digress. In the past, PIFF has been mostly a disappointment, especially in the past two years.

HOWEVER…this year’s first week of press screenings, which are available to any press member or Silver Screen Members, is showing four of the most important, challenging and widely discussed films of 2008 (The actual festival schedule will become available soon)!

Rather than try to convince you through my own opinion and passion, I have uploaded trailers for nine of the films which will be playing at the festival (and the week of January 27th-January 30th for Silver Hair, er I mean Screen, Members). The first four are HUNGER, GOMORRAH, OF TIME AND THE CITY (which are all on the Film Society of Lincoln Center Best Of list for 2008) and BAADER MEINHOF COMPLEX. The rest are pandering crap, but don’t take my word for it…watch the trailers!




With any luck, the Portland International Film Festival will be as great as those first four films.

By the way, all PSU students! Throughout the year, you can attend ALL films at The Northwest FIlm Center FOR FREE. That’s a $250 value! So start paying attention to their scheduling and see great films all year round for free!



Tomorrow and Thursday night ONLY are the last two nights to see Jean Luc Godard’s 1967 masterpiece, PIERROT LE FOU (Jean Luc Godard, 1967, France)! If you give a shit whatsoever about Cinema with a Capital C, you’ll go. This is a brand new 35mm print which explodes with color, humor, subversion, politics and passion.

Pierrot Le Fou Trailer 1

Pierrot Le Fou Trailer 2

BONUS TO ALL GODARD FANS! Godard, who is still alive and active, made the trailer for last year’s Viennale Film Festival, which played in 100 cinemas throughout Austria: 



Liked GRAND TORINO didya???

THURSDAY, JANUARY 29TH at 7PM, ONE NIGHT ONLY at The Whitsell Auditorium, Sergio Leone’s masterpiece, THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY (Sergio Leone, 1967, Italy/Spain)!!! This is the greatest Spaghetti Western ever made and stars CLINT EASTWOOD, Eli Wallach and Lee Van Cleef, featuring an iconic music score by Italy’s most prolific composer, Ennio Morricone.

If you are under thirty or have never seen a Western on the big screen, you MUST GO. It’s epic, funny, riveting and great storytelling.



One of the best films of 1998 is playing at The Fifth Avenue Cinema at PSU this weekend. Vincent Gallo, a voluptuous, jiggly Christina Ricci (before she became rail thin and boring), Mickey Rourke (who by now you’ve probably been convinced is worth reassessing because of an overly aggressive marketing campaign for The Wrestler), Ben Gazzara, Rosanna Arquette, Jan-Michael Vincent, Anjelica Huston and Kevin Pollak and Kevin Corrigan, as Rocky the Goon, star in BUFFALO ’66 (Vincent Gallo, 1998, U.S.). For as arrogant and insane as Gallo is, this really is a great film and has aged very well, for those of you who saw it upon its release. It’s promotional tools were also special; the poster displayed the name of the film in sky blue glitter and the trailer is as amazing as the film.


BUFFALO ’66 plays Friday and Saturday at 7pm and 9:30pm, Sunday at 3pm.

And remember…films at the 5th Ave Cinema are only THREE BUCKS, and even better, they are FREE to PSU students, always shown on 35mm film and always FREE POPCORN! Last Saturday night’s screening of Forbidden Planet was standing room only! How cool is that?



One of the greatest sci-fi films of the Seventies will be playing at The Bagdad SATURDAY ONLY at 11pm. Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm, Yaphet Kotto star in ALIEN (Ridley Scott, 1979, U.K.)!

Again, if you’re under thirty and you’ve never seen ALIEN or if you’ve only seen it on a little television screen, do yourself a favor and go. It’s only THREE BUCKS.


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What’s that you say? The economy got ya down? Can’t afford three dollars for a movie even? Well, how about staying at home and watching great international cinema FOR FREE!

Yes, that’s right! You heard right! is a new website which has partnered with distributor The Criterion Collection to bring you six free films every month from their international collection. Their first festival, two months ago featured five truly amazing coming of age films: Ratcatcher (Lynne Ramsay, 1999, U.K.), Au Revoir Les Enfants (Louis Malle, 1987, Fr.), Sweetie (Jane Campion, 1989, NZ), Lord of the Flies (Peter Brook, 1963, UK) and The Spirit of the Beehive (Victor Erice, 1973, Spain).

This month’s theme is Killer Movies! Go to this link to watch six great international films FOR FREE!


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You may be wondering why I’m not reporting on any first run films this time. We’re in an annual slump when the studios are aware that everyone is in a mad dash to see the films released in December or earlier in preparation for the Oscars and so don’t really release anything worthwhile. But you can still catch great films at The Laurelhurst like HAPPY GO LUCKY and French thriller, TELL NO ONE, or at The Hollywood Theatre, I’VE LOVED YOU SO LONG, RACHEL GETTING MARRIED, SYNEDOCHE NEW YORK and WENDY AND LUCY, all of which I’ve mentioned in previous emails. So if you’re not in the mood for rep cinema programming, the second run cinemas are lookin’ good!

And again, there’s six great films for free at The Auteurs!

But still…here is the PDXFilm recommended film schedule:

WEDNESDAY/THURSDAY: Pierrot Le Fou at The Clinton St, 7pm only
FRIDAY: Buffalo ’66 at 5th Avenue Cinema at PSU
SATURDAY: Alien at The Bagdad
Next THURSDAY: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly at The NW Film Center
ONLY ELEVEN MORE DAYS UNTIL TRON!!! Just found this myspace page promoting the soundtrack by Walter (now Wendy) Carlos. GORGEOUSNESS.





Films in PDX: Jan. 15th – Jan. 22nd

14 01 2009

This is a fairly light week for film in Portland.  However…



A BRAND NEW 35MM FILM PRINT OF PIERROT LE FOU (Jean-Luc Godard, France, 1967) opens Friday and plays for one week at The Clinton Street Theater.  This was Godard and Karina’s last collaboration together and the film vibrates with gorgeous primary colors.  
Pierrot Le Fou Trailer

If you are wanting to learn just what great cinema art can do, by all means do not miss this screening.  
PIERROT LE FOU plays nightly starting Friday.  NO SCREENINGS MONDAY.  Plays at 7pm.  Tickets are $6 except on Tuesdays it’s only FOUR BUCKS!  
The reason there is no screening Monday is because The Clinton Street Theater will be presenting a very special screening of KING: A FILMED RECORD – FROM MONTGOMERY TO MEMPHIS (Sidney Lumet/Joseph Mankiewicz, U.S., 1970) Compiled from vintage newsreels, this film shows Rev. King – not as a saint – but as a compassionate man. Most of his great speeches are featured – including an uncut version of his historic “I Have a Dream” speech – given in Washington D.C. The documentary also features powerful and rare film of marches and civil rights demonstrations. Recommended for those who seek an insight to the man behind the dream. KING was selected to be part of the Library of Congress Film Registry and screens Monday only at 7pm and 9:15pm.
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Some good second run fare at The Hollywood Theatre this week. 

I’VE LOVED YOU SO LONG (Philippe Claudel, France, 2008) starring Kristen Scott Thomas opens on Friday.
I’ve Loved You So Long Trailer

RACHEL GETTING MARRIED (Jonathan Demme, U.S., 2008) starring Anne Hathaway continues for another week.
Rachel Getting Married Trailer

SYNEDOCHE, NEW YORK (Charles Kaufman, U.S., 2008) with Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener and Michelle Williams continues its run.
Synedoche, New York Trailer

WENDY AND LUCY (Kelly Reichardt, U.S., 2008) with Michelle Williams plays for one more week.  
Wendy and Lucy Trailer

That’s FOUR really great films of 2008.  Tickets on Mondays is only FOUR BUCKS.  STAY ALL DAY!
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On Wednesday, January 21, The Northwest Film Center is playing THE PLANETS BY GUSTAV HOLST (Ken Russell, U.K., 1983), which doubles with one of the best films of 2008, THE SILENCE BEFORE BACH (Pere Portabella, Spain, 2008).  “Through a series of vignettes, Portabella uses the works of J.S. Bach to look at the deep relationship between image and music throughout the centuries. In one scene of this provocative narrative-free mÉlange, a player piano plunks out the ‘Goldberg Variations’ while moving itself around an empty loft; in another, Felix Mendelssohn rediscovers the manuscript of the ‘St. Matthew Passion’ wrapped around meat at a market. A wildly unconventional film for the Bach lover.”  
THE SILENCE BEFORE BACH plays Wednesday only at 8pm at The Whitsell Auditorium. 
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Saturday at The Bagdad is Johnny Depp, super saucy Amy Locane, Iggy Pop, Ricki Lake, once underaged porn star Traci Lords, Troy Donahue, Mink Stole, Warhol veteran Joe Dallesandro, Joey Heatherton, Willem Dafoe, Mary Vivian Pearce and terrorist Patty Hearst in CRY BABY (John Waters, U.S., 1990)!
For those of you who love yerselves some John Waters, don’t miss this one!  CRY BABY plays Saturday night ONLY at The Bagdad at 11pm!!!  Tickets are only THREE BUCKS!
Cry Baby Trailer

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If you hadn’t read in the news, Sally Hawkins beat Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson and Frances McDormand for a Best Actress Golden Globe for her performance in HAPPY GO LUCKY which plays for another week at The Laurelhurst!  Showtimes are 7:20pm with Saturday and Sunday matinee screenings at 1:20pm.  Tickets are only THREE BUCKS (“Now that’s what I call a BARGAIN”)!  If you haven’t seen it, GO!  I personally can’t stop watching it and am totally addicted to all the many levels of Hawkins’ character.  Flaws and all HAPPY GO LUCKY is my favorite film of 2008.
Sally Hawkins Golden Globes Acceptance Speech

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Which reminds me…
It’s time for the PDXFilm Best of 2008!
I’ve divided my list into two parts:  The fifteen best new films which came out in 2008 and the best repertory films that played in Portland last year.  Going over the list of repertory films which played last year was exhausting as there were nearly 300 films!  I omitted films from my list which get commonly programmed such as Eraserhead, Harold & Maude, The Exorcist, Pink Flamingos, 400 Blows, Singin’ In the Rain, which are all incredible films that deserve to be played annually.  But my focus was more on special films which are rarely programmed and rarely seen.  
I hope you enjoy the list and there may be a handful which haven’t yet played in Portland but will play in the next few months. 







Films in PDX: Jan. 7th – Jan. 15th

6 01 2009

Happy New Year, everybody!

2008 was the worst of years and the best of years. For quality, it was definitely one of the worst years in the history of cinema (a list of the best films of 2008 will be following some time this month and its not that impressive), and yet according to Reuters, it was the highest grossing year ever for cinema. In the U.K., MAMA MIA! became the highest grossing film ever, beating out Titanic, for example.

For Portland, it was an outstanding year for repertory cinema. Laurelhurst played two weeks from the United Artists catalog, The NW Film Center presented priceless director retrospectives, a young kid named Riley at The Broadway Metroplex managed to smuggle in some more obscure titles under the Regal radar, The 5th Ave Cinema programmed a challenging two semesters of art house fare, both contemporary and classic, The Grindhouse Film Festival keeps on improving its programming and showing films more frequently, and at the beginning of the year there was the intoxicating, dizzing 48-hour Supertrash at The Bagdad.

In fact, the whole reason I started PDXFilm was because of how well the repertory cinema programming in this pluvial little town had matured. We have enough great programming that we really do compete with what Seattle, San Fran and Chicago provide. At last, one part of this town has grown up! We can proudly say, yes, we have microcinemas like Cinema Project and Four Wall Cinema to support underground programming! Yes, we combine cult and trash cinema with the best of art house cinema, like at The Clinton Street Theater! Yes we have all the best independent films, like at Cinema 21 and The Hollywood Theatre! Yes, we have consistently intelligent art house rep programming at The NW Film Center! And better yet, yes, you can see these all on film and none of these cinemas charge more than seven bucks, many of which charge as little as three bucks! PORTLAND’S FILM SCENE RULES!

Of course, there’s always room for improvement. For as many film festivals as we have, we don’t have a world class one. The Portland International Film Fest is like a Reader’s Digest of all the other international festivals which caters to the blue hairs who buy Silver Screen Memberships for the NW Film Center, which is their bread and butter. The NW Film Festival is terrific for our DIY culture, but it doesn’t give much real exposure on a national level, except for when the festival choses a film to tour as part of it’s Best Of series. The Lesbian & Gay Festival, is okay but usually lacks imagination, except for this year’s new Bruce LaBruce zombie gay sex hybrid (OTTO: OR UP WITH DEAD PEOPLE). And then there’s the PDX Film Fest which always sucks in every way. There are dozens more actually, but none of them really put Portland on the map. Maybe someday when Bill Foster at the Film Center passes the gauntlet there will be more challenging international cinema here, but I’m not holding my breath.

Easily the biggest (though most interesting) failure of the year has been Supertrash. You may remember earlier in the year the online tete a tete that happened between yours truly and Supertrash’s Jacques Boyreau. Since that time, Supertrash has gone from being a three day festival to single film, Saturday night programming. And the films haven’t stuck to the ideology of Supertrash’s desire to merge art and trash together at all! In fact, in the last month he’s shown nothing but mainstream fare with Stop Making Sense, Scarface and The Shining, which had just played at two other cinemas the month before. But I will say the very first Supertrash was astounding and I do hope Jacques can turn it around.
And lastly, I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to see City Lights and Singin’ In the Rain at Cinema 21 last week. Both films were a success and with any luck, my film ‘Tis the Season may become a regular, holiday program. So thank you!

And now, on with the week!!!


Most everyone I know has seen MILK by now. Fine fine fine.  I’ve seen it and it’s great BUT…

In 1984, there was an Academy Award winning documentary about Harvey Milk which chronicles what happened with real footage and it’s waaaaaaay better than what a biopic can ever do, no matter who is helming it.

TOMORROW NIGHT (Wednesday) at 7pm ONLY at The Whitsell Auditorium, THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK (Rob Epstein, 1985, U.S.)will play. I know you saw MILK, but now go see the real thing. SO GO SEE IT. I know you won’t, but at least you know you had the chance now.


The Times of Harvey Milk Trailer




Wendy and Lucy

Both Cinema 21 AND The Hollywood Theatre are playing WENDY AND LUCY, the newest from Old Joy director, Kelly Reichardt. It’s shot here in Portland and was shot on 16mm. There’s plenty of press about it and it did well at Cannes, so I don’t feel like I have anything else to add.


Wendy and Lucy Trailer


Check websites for showtimes: Cinema 21, Hollywood Theatre

Also at The Hollywood Theatre, RACHEL GETTING MARRIED, which is amazing, SYNEDOCHE, NEW YORK, by Charlie Kaufman and A CHRISTMAS TALE, three of the best films of the year.

Monday nights at The Hollywood Theatre is only FOUR BUCKS!

Fantastic Planet

The Fifth Avenue Cinema has changed management. It used to be managed by this hyper-cool chick named Caitlin Porter who really, really loved cinema and gave Portland a year of amazing film. Well, she has graduated and now Fifth Ave Cinema programming has changed. To be honest, in the thirteen years I’ve been going to this cinema, it is the worst schedule I have ever seen, so I won’t be mentioning them much for the next three months.

That said, the animated cult classic, FANTASTIC PLANET (René Laloux, Fr./Cz., 1973) starts off the semester. FANTASTIC PLANET won the Special Jury Prize at Cannes that year.

“On the far-off planet of Ygam, a tiny human-like race revolts against the giant blue aliens who enslave them. Set against a trippy acid-rock score, this French-Czech production’s basic animation style is transformed into something wonderful by its organic landscapes and nightmarish creatures – a fusion of Dalí, Hieronymous Bosch and Terry Gilliam that’s truly surreal rather than plain weird. Winner of the Grand Prix at Cannes in 1973, it’s proof that Euro animation occasionally throws up an oddity to stem the flow from the US and Japan. Overall, the film feels magical, surreal and wonderful in a way not often seen from European animation.” -Empire Magazine.

If nothing else, AT LEAST WATCH THE TRAILER (make sure you smoke something first though)


Fantastic Planet Trailer

FANTASTIC PLANET plays Friday and Saturday at 7pm and 9:30pm, Sunday matinee at 3pm. Tickets are only THREE BUCKS and if you are a PSU student, it’s FREE! AND you get FREE POPCORN!!!


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And just a reminder that at the Laurelhurst is two of the best films of the year, HAPPY-GO-LUCKY and Woody Allen’s VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA.

Check website for showtimes: Laurelhurst Theater

TICKETS ARE ONLY THREE BUCKS! And they’ve got wine and beer!

The Godfather

So from Christmas to New Year’s Day, The Hollywood Theatre showed both of The Godfather films. Did the snow prevent you from seeing it? Aw man…I’m sorry.

BUT HEY! THIS FRIDAY, you get another chance to see it at The Bagdad! Yup! THE GODFATHER (Francis Ford Copolla, 1972, U.S.)plays on their massive screen this Friday at 10PM (take a nap before you go…also tickets are $10).


The Godfather Trailer

Then this Saturday at The Bagdad, Supertrash presents…sigh. See, this isn’t trashy, it isn’t art, it’s just kinda silly really…I know, I know, you probably like the films and I probably do too, but it’s just not Supertrashy in any way at all. Anyway, at 11pm on Saturday it’s…


Meanwhile…you can start counting the days for one of the all time greatest ever ever EVER EVAR sci-fi, acid freakout sci-fi film made by Disney!!!!!!! YES THAT’S RIGHT!


You only have to wait TWENTY FIVE DAYS.

Please let me know if you wanna get a group together for this one.


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And that’s that for the local cinemas. Meanwhile, you’ve got REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, THE READER, DOUBT, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and I’VE LOVED YOU SO LONG all at the Regal Fox Tower Stadium 10. Pay for one and stay for all!
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To review:

Friday only: THE GODFATHER
Saturday: Back to the future
And thanks again to those who braved the elements to see ‘Tis the Season. I thank you and Skye does too!


Best Films of 2008

1 01 2009


Carlos Reygadas, Mexico/France/Netherlands

Silent Light, Best Film of 2008


1. Silent Light Carlos Reygadas, Mexico/France/Netherlands
2. Hunger Steve McQueen, U.K.
3. Opera Jawa Garin Nugroho, Indonesia
4. Gomorrah Matteo Garrone, Italy
5. Happy Go Lucky Mike Leigh, U.K.
6. Let the Right One In Tomas Alfredson, Sweden
7. Flight of the Red Balloon Hou Hsiao-hsien, Taiwan/France
8. Milk Gus Van Sant, U.S.
9. Vicky Cristina Barcelona Woody Allen, Spain/U.S.
10. Rachel Getting Married Jonathan Demme, U.S.
11. Man on Wire James Marsh, U.K.
12. Chop Shop Ramin Bahrani, U.S.
13. Paranoid Park Gus Van Sant, U.S.
14. Big Man Japan Hitoshi Matsumoto, Japan
15. Wendy and Lucy Kelly Reichardt, U.S.


Best Repertory Films in Portland of 2008

14. Shaolin Vs. Wu Tang Chia Hui Liu, Hong Kong, 1984    Shaolin Vs. Wu Tang

Compared to the canon of first generation Hong Kong action films, this one is somewhat obscure unless you follow the genre with a certain zeal. I never would have know about it otherwise had it not been for the Grindhouse programming at The Hollywood Theatre. Apparently, it is nearly impossible to find a widescreen version of this film on DVD or VHS, so this was a real treat to see on one of the biggest screens in Portland. Its balletic and inventive Kung Fu action was breathtaking and the theatrical opening credits rivaled the imagination of Garin Nugroho, the brilliant Indonesian director of this year’s Opera Jawa. If you are a fan of Kung Fu action, and you get the chance to see it on the big screen, see it.


13. Ice Robert Kramer, U.S., 1970  

Ice “This film coolly extrapolates twenty years into the American future to discover  urban guerillas in the streets and glass-and-marble buildings of New York, at  war against a fascist regime,” writes Amos Vogel, author of Film as a  Subversive Art. “Directed by a leader of the radical-left documentary film group  ‘Newsreel’, it also hints at the human limitations of its heroes and displays an  ideologically interesting ambiguity (if not sadness) toward them; significantly,  all talk about ideas and causes has been superseded by discussions of tactics      and terror, as if the revolution was merely a matter of efficient technology.”

     What made this one of the best screenings of the year was the secretive location of Cinema Project; four rickety flights of stairs overlooking W. Burnside where the audience huddled together next to space heaters making the experience all the more illicit and the film, rarely screened in the U.S. upon its completion, all the more contraband. Additionally, participants in the film attended the screening. Long live the microcinema!!  


12. After Hours Martin Scorsese, U.S., 1985

After Hours

A Scorsese film that is rarely ever screened and has more in common with the absurd tales found in Czech cinema of the Sixties than any of the films in Scorsese’s oevre, After Hours played for one week at The Clinton Street Theater and I saw nearly every screening. My favorite film and the one that fueled my passion for cinema.


11. Streets of Fire Walter Hill, U.S., 1984
(tie) Krull Peter Yates, U.S., 1983 streetsoffirewillem460

These two films played contiguously at The Laurelhurst and though not particularly good films, they shared the same deliciously baffling flaws. Both shared a fairy tale story about saving a damsel in distress and both took place in the future despite their equally shambolic design of what the future will look like; Krull had spaceships but its heroes ran around in chiffon princess dresses and Robin Hood tights and Streets of Fire’s future looked an awful lot like American Graffiti. The latter had the advantage of two great songs composed by Jim Steinman.



10. Mønti Pythøn ik den Høli Gräilen Terry Gilliam & Terry Jones, U.K., 1975

holygrail166mj4 The Holy Grail is standard repertory fare and is frequently programmed,  usually as midnight screenings. But when The Laurelhurst played it, there was  something contagiously exuberant about the screenings, so much so that they  kept the film on for an additional week. There was one screening where a  handful of audience members brought little stuffed animal bunnies covered in  blood! Portland sincerely loves Python and sometimes its the audience that  makes the screening sensational.



9. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter Joseph Zito, U.S. 1984 6

There’s a burbling innocence to what was meant to be the last of the franchise, co-starring Corey Feldman and Crispin Glover (The first of the series co-starred Kevin Bacon). Moreover, the sexual play of the curious teens who later get sliced and diced is genuinely charming and funny as Crispin Glover attempts to dance his way into the heart of the girl of his liking and Lawrence Monoson gets high and giggles as he watches vintage porn from the Silent Era (on film). In fact, the people who survive Jason’s wrath have no sense of humor about themselves whatsoever, turning the morality tale of the horror genre on its head. And to top it all off, this is the film where we finally get to see Jason’s face and if that’s not enough, cute, little 13-year old Corey Feldman shaves his head and kills Jason himself! This is the best of the series and what a privilege to see this on a huge screen at The Broadway Metroplex.


8. The Super Inframan Shan Hua, Hong Kong, 1975


A Hong Kong tokusatsu-style superhero movie produced by The Shaw Brothers. Though the film was a rip-off of Japan’s Ultraman and even starred Bruce Le (the B-movie Bruce Lee), it was the first superhero movie made in China. Monsters are sent from the center of the Earth by Demon Princess Elzebub to take over the world but her plan is foiled when The Science Headquarters transforms an SH officer into the solar powered Inframan. Some of the rubber suited monsters are Fire Dragon, Spider Monster, Plant Monster, Drill Arm and Witch Eye who has an eye on her palms that shoots green beams of light. Inframan’s powers include Thunder Fists! Super psychedelic light show montages that were hypnotic and seizure inducing made this screening unforgettable.


7.  Jazz On A Summer’s Day Bert Stern, U.S., 1960

Photographer Bert Stern richly colored film focuses as much on the audience as it does the performers making this a very human and jubilant film. Performances by Thelonious Monk, Anita O’Day, Dinah Washington,Big Maybelle, Chuck Berry, Louis Armstrong and Mahalia Jackson. The screening was extended for an additional week and played in the main cinema at The Hollywood Theatre. Anyone who attended knew they had seen one of the main cinema events in Portland.


6. The Grindhouse Trailer Spectacular Various

Playing to a packed audience, The Hollywood Theatre played two hours of some of the greatest trailers ever made from the genre like Crippled Masters, Torso, Squirm and the killer house cat movie starring Peter Cushing and Ray Milland, The Uncanny. Most of these trailers are not available on any format other than 35mm film, so these screenings are special and enormously engaging. It’s screenings like this one which prove that cinema can blow the roof off of rock concerts.


5. The Party Blake Edwards, U.S. 1968


Blake Edwards is one of the greatest American directors of physical comedy and he choreographs his scenes for a very widescreen, often letting a scene playfully without a change of angle. The  print screened at The Laurelhurst was  practically pristine and presented in all  it’s CinemaScope glory. Hilarious, colorful, subversive and downright giddy.


4. Performance Nicholas Roeg, U.K., 1970   504954927_63b6b6d77f_o

Roeg’s innovative pop cinema debut starring Mick Jagger and James Fox played on two screens simultaneously at PSU’s 5th Avenue Cinema unintentionally mirroring the film’s theme of duplicity. The distributor could not get a 35mm print and so the theater manager offered the audience a choice to watch a 16mm print with sub par audio or a DVD video projection. Most of the audience chose the film print. What a coup!


3. Taking Off  Milos Forman, U.S., 1971

10kehr6001 Written by Forman, playwright John Guare and screenwriter for Jacques Tati  and Luis Buñuel, Jean-Claude Carrière, this film starred Buck Henry, John  Cassavetes’ veteran Lynn Carlin, Vincent Schiavelli (who played Mr. Vargas  in Fast Times At Ridgemont High) and cameos by Ike & Tina Turner and Carly  Simon, this was the first American film made by Czech director, Milos  Forman. This played at the Northwest Film Center’s Forman Retrospective  and was a new print with colors that exploded off the screen. Totally hilarious  as it thumbed its nose at the xenophobic bourgeoise who didn’t understand the new generation of youngsters. A true delight and a very rare screening indeed.


2. 2 ou 3 choses que je sais d’elle Jean-Luc Godard, 1967


This film is not available on DVD and only available occasionally at specialty video stores on VHS. The Hollywood Theatre audaciously screened this during the same week as The Portland International Film Festival AND the first Supertrash, but it knew what it had; one of the all time masterpieces created by a giant of the Nouvelle Vague. Presented in a newly restored Eastmancolor anamorphic print on the main screen at The Hollywood, this film features one of the most iconic moments in Godard’s films of the Milky Way galaxy spiraling in a coffee cup. A special screening and one of the most affecting of the year.


1. Mad Love Karl Freund, U.S., 1935   lorre_madlove

In Paris, the great surgeon Dr. Gogol (played by Peter Lorre) falls madly in love with stage actress Yvonne Orlac, and his ardor disturbs her quite a bit when he discovers to his horror that she is married to concert pianist Stephen Orlac. Shortly thereafter, Stephen’s hands are badly crushed in a train accident- beyond the power of standard medicine. Knowing that his hands are his life, Yvonne overcomes her fear and goes to Dr. Gogol, to beg him to help. Gogol decides to surgically graft the hands of executed murderer Rollo onto Stephen Orlac, the surgery is successful but has terrible side-effects. Original, obscure, phantasmagorical, flamboyant and totally eerie, this was Lorre’s film debut and cinematographer Freund’s last attempt at directing and it was this Supertrash screening which demonstrated just how innovative Portland’s repertory programming can be.


Honorable Mention goes to The Derek Jarman Retrospective at The NW Film Center, Charles Laughton’s Night Of the Hunter at The Laurelhurst, The Exiles at Cinema 21 and Otto Preminger’s Bunny Lake is Missing at The 5th Ave. Cinema.


– tenzis, pdxfilm