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!