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!!!
THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK
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
THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK. 7PM. WEDNESDAY NIGHT. WHITSELL AUDITORIUM.
OH! And if you’re a PSU student, ALL NW FILM CENTER FILMS ARE FREE!! NO KIDDING! FREE!
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
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!
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!
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…
BACK TO THE FUTURE.
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!
TRON IS COMING TO SUPERTRASH!!!! FINALLY!
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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Tomorrow night: THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK
Friday only: THE GODFATHER
Saturday: Back to the future
Weekend only: FANTASTIC PLANET
All week: WENDY AND LUCY, HAPPY-GO-LUCKY, VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA, RACHEL GETTING MARRIED, SYNEDOCHE NY
And thanks again to those who braved the elements to see ‘Tis the Season. I thank you and Skye does too!