END of PDXFilm

16 04 2009

I’m almost positive that this is the end of PDXFilm.  

I’ve been doing this blog or something similar to promote what an incredible town this is for foreign and repertory film programming, and I think I’d like to spend my Wednesdays doing something else.  I almost never see anyone at any of the screenings discussed here, even amongst the friends I know who read this blog, so I think I’m done.  Maybe I’ll spend my time making a new film, who knows?

In the meantime, I’d like to thank the handful of folks who read and followed the blog, even if they never really went to the films I mentioned.  One of the ways I’d like to thank folks is by giving away tickets to one of the most exciting cinema events of the year, which is THE GRINDHOUSE TRAILER WAR!

WEDNESDAY, April 22nd at 9:30pm stands to be one of the most exciting evenings of cinema with two hours of Grindhouse trailer curated by the programmers at Austin’s The Alamo Theatre. 

I’ve been promoting The Grindhouse Festival for about a year, and if you haven’t gone, GO.  It’s next Wednesday.  They are expecting it to sell out (which means some 450 people laughing and cheering, the way cinema ought to be).

Keith Mansfield’s “Funky Fanfare” accompanies an Astro Daters theatrical snipe produced by National Screen Service (circa late 1960’s)

You may think to yourself, well, there isn’t any program notes and I’ve heard grindhouse is violent or exploitive…Oh get a fuckin’ sense of humor!  Grindhouse was to Hollywood what punk rock was to rock music; a gob of spit in the eye of bourgeois tastes and morals.  Cinema is best when it captures our dreams and dreams are often surreal, violent, sexual and make no sense.  How gorgeous that there was a movement in film when films really reflected our most primal desires and fears.  But more than that, the contemporary Grindhouse screening is a film history class turned rock concert with the most passionate film students screaming their heads off at the visceral swirl of what cinema does best.


Listen, you’re never gonna brave these choppy waters of cinema, so why bother reading this?  But if you change your mind, email me at pdxfilm@mac.com and you tell me why you’re interested in Grindhouse and if I like your response, I’ll give you ONE FREE TICKET.  You must reply by APRIL 18th.

Anyway…for those of you who like what you experience at Grindhouse, THURSDAY APRIL 23rd for one night only at The Clinton St Theater, a Hicksploitation Double Feature!  Now I gotta admit, this is my least favorite subgenre of Grindhouse, but here’s the details…

First up is Gator Bait (1974) Picture yourself on a state highway in the rural south in 1974. In the distance an apparition flickers on a drive-in screen. It’s a beautiful woman with long red hair and skin the color of mother’s milk. She lifts a 12-gauge to eye level and squeezes the trigger. It’s not a hallucination. It’s Claudia Jennings, a common sight on drive-in screens throughout the country in the 70’s and that rarest of things, a genuine female action star. The movie is Gator Bait, a huge hit that kept drive-in audiences coming back again and again. Like most movies that made it big on the chitlin’ circuit, Gator Bait really delivers. 

The story of a sexy swamp rat named Desiree who’s half woman and half savage, it features the scariest inbred hillbillies outside of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and a revenge plot that builds to a thundering, foot-stomping climax. As an actress Claudia Jennings doesn’t have a great deal of range, but then neither does a sawed off shotgun. Under the right circumstances both can be devastating. Jennings, who was a Playboy Playmate of the year, had an outstanding career in low-budget exploitation films before dying in a car crash at age 29. There’s never been another one like her. Gator Bait is a true drive-in classic. Don’t miss it. 

Followed by Psycho From Texas (1981) Already a cult favorite among the most discriminating hicksploitation connoisseurs, this cheap, sleazy slice of lone-star low-life is finally poised to infect the rest of the country. All Texans are familiar with this film but the very mention of its title is oddly taboo. It’s a little like the mentally deficient cousin with the weird ears who lives in the basement and eats bugs. We just don’t talk about it. Well, maybe now’s the time to start because there’s a lot to love about this movie. 

The titular psycho, Wheeler, is one of the most memorable characters in regional filmdom. John King III deserved an Oscar for his performance as the mommy obsessed killer with the weird laugh and the unorthodox fried chicken eating technique. But it may be Tommy Lamey as Wheeler’s toothpick-worrying sidekick Slick who provides the most memorable moments in the film, notably a long foot chase that takes up probably a third of the run-time and provides laughs galore. 
Psycho From Texas features more scummy dialogue, K-mart fashions, mean rednecks, continuity lapses, incongruous BOING sound effects and country cuties than any film you can name.

The Hicksploitation Double Feature is one night, April 23rd at 8:30pm, tickets $8 (which is kinda high, I think).  But good news…The Clinton Street Theater now has a new sound system!  Yup!  Remember how crappy it used to sound?  Well, that’s because they didn’t have a center speaker!  Now they got one!

Moving right along…

I’ve been talking about HUNGER (Steve McQueen, U.K.) for months on this blog.  And it is finally coming to Cinema 21 starting Friday.  Last week, I talked about how art cinema is moving closer to becoming experiential and HUNGER exemplifies this.  The film isn’t interested in showing us a story but rather letting the audience experience what the characters experience.  HUNGER, along with last week’s Silent Light, is one of the best films of the year, if not an important film as well, and not to be missed.

Check Cinema 21’s website for showtimes.

Also at Cinema 21, through April 23rd, Monty Python and the Holy Grail…Now what I don’t understand is why Cinema 21 doesn’t have more faith in HUNGER which is only playing once a day.  Ah well.  Times are tough for great art.   BTW, Cinema 21 has starting serving beer and wine which means shows past 6pm are 21 and over only.

OR if you’re feeling a little campy this Saturday, you can go see Olivia Newton John in XANADU (Robert Greenwald, U.S. 1980), which plays one night only at The Bagdad at 9PM.  WARNING:  Remember, you can NEVER trust The Bagdad to show a film print, so call in advance!!!  


That’s it.  ERASERHEAD plays one more night at Clinton St., HUNGER begins Friday and plays for one week (SEEEE IT!), GRINDHOUSE TRAILER WAR is Wednesday at 9:30pm (FREE TICKET TO THOSE INTERESTED!), and then on Saturday is XANADU.

And that’s all I have to say.  Hope you’ve enjoyed PDXFilm.   You can always email me at pdxfilm@mac.com and I’m happy to tell you about what’s worth seeing. 

I’m gonna make a movie now. 



PDXFilm: Easter Weekend

9 04 2009

Spring has sprung and The Resurrection is upon us.  To celebrate, The NW Film Center is bringing us one of  THE BEST FILMS OF THE DECADE!!!!!!!!!!

Stellet Licht

SILENT LIGHT (Carlos Reygadas, Mexico, 2007) is FINALLY getting theatrically released in the U.S. two years after its European release.  I begged and pleaded with the distributor to play it in Portland and we are BLESSED to have it play over Easter weekend!  PERFECT!

With SILENT LIGHT, Mexican auteur Carlos Reygadas (Japon, Battle In Heaven) delivers an extraordinary, transcendent meditation on love and religion. To capture the innocence necessary to tell his tale, Reygadas ventured to a Mennonite community in northern Mexico.  Rather than falsifying his world, Reygadas cast the film with Mennonites from the community who speak the German dialect Plattdeutsch.

From the luminous opening shot, which is without question one of the most stunning opening shots ever committed to celluloid, it becomes clear that this is a much different film than Reygadas’s last, the graphic and blunt Battle In Heaven. While it appears that Reygadas was deeply influenced by Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Ordet, as well as the works of Terrence Malick, SILENT LIGHT is the work of a visionary filmmaker who is challenging himself and trying to address genuinely deep human issues. Beautiful and profound, SILENT LIGHT is cinema at its most breathtaking.

Stellet Sunset

Manohla Dargis of New York Times writes, “The extravagantly talented director Carlos Reygadas’s immersion in the exotic world of SILENT LIGHT feels so deep and true that it seems like an act of faith.”

Miranda Seigel of New York Magazine writes, “From its stunning opening shot to its final, hauntingly spiritual finale, Carlos Reygadas’s drama of sin and penance set among the Mennonite community of Mexico is the kind of gorgeous, multilayered art film they just don’t make anymore.”

The French paper, Le Monde, writes, “Reygadas’ genius makes every moment sacred.”


Starting in 2002, there has been an undiscussed zeitgeist in contemporary art cinema. Lynne Ramsay’s Morvern Callar, Lucretia Martel’s The Holy Girl, Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s Innocence and more recently Steve McQueen’s Hunger, have in one way or another allowed the viewer to participate in the sensuality of their films, not provide the comfortable distance of a voyeur. But of all these films that provide an experience more than a window through which to passively peer, Reygadas’ SILENT LIGHT is a film which you can not only feel with your body, but feel with your soul.  It is perhaps the closest a film has gotten to the idea of God since Kubrick’s Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey.  


The Financial Times wrote this review after SILENT LIGHT premiered at Cannes in 2007:

“Sometimes cinema isn’t cinema at all: it is revelation. Carlos Reygadas’s SILENT LIGHT will make you weak with wonder. Your eyes will turn skyward like an El Greco saint and you will fall to the ground in a conscious swoon of rapture. (If this does not happen, see a doctor.) The Mexican director’s first film, Japon, a sex-and-landscape film so minimalist it was mind-blowing, elevated him to the arthouse A-list. His second, Battle in Heaven, provoked punch-ups between admirers and detractors. (I was in the second group.) The new film is a miracle, if we define that word as the impossible made possible by grace and faith.”

“It was ‘impossible’ for Reygadas to persuade real members of a strict German Protestant sect – Amish lookalikes with their own brand of timewarped Puritanism – to enact a drama of passion. It was ‘impossible’ for him to direct them in their own language, Plautdietsch, a kind of medieval Dutch, when he didn’t understand it himself. (The audience is allowed subtitles.) It was ‘impossible’ for him to make this so hypnotic, so real-yet-otherworldly, that the filmgoer has a virtual out-of-body experience. At Cannes I was on the ceiling like everyone else.”

“The fantastic opening and closing shots make clear that Earth is part of Heaven and vice versa. Mortal people build lives, fall in love, have children, and go walkabout with their hearts.”


“None of the actors ‘act’. They just radiate. And their characters ponder the perennial questions. Like our hero, we cannot reconcile God and sin, but we wonder if love can be sin since if it comes from God. Midway through our reveries, a rainstorm crashes down; The screen bursts with water. Nothing is left except the need for a miracle.”

“Reygadas has been accused of stealing his ending from Carl Theodore Dreyer. I say great artists own everything and can do what they like; especially when, as with SILENT LIGHT it is what audiences like too. This is a film of grace and greatness.


IF THERE IS ONLY ONE FILM YOU SEE THIS YEAR IN THE CINEMA, IT IS SILENT LIGHT.  SILENT LIGHT plays this weekend only at The NW Film Center, Friday at 7pm, Saturdat at 4pm and 7pm, Easter Sunday at 4pm and 7pm.  






What is going on?  Out of nowhere there are TWO David Lynch screenings this Easter weekend.  The Clinton Street Theater is playing a NEW 35mm print of ERASERHEAD (U.S., 1977).  It starts this Friday and plays nightly at 7pm.  Tickets are only THREE BUCKS (no show on 4/14)!!

And this weekend only, Portland State University’s Fifth Avenue Cinema is playing a rare 35mm print of the original X-rated cut of WILD AT HEART (U.S., 1990), starring Nicholas Cage, Laura Dern, her mom Diane Ladd, Harry Dean Stanton, Isabella Rossellini, Willem Dafoe, Crispin Glover and Twin Peaks’ Sherilyn Fenn, Grace Zabriskie and Jack Nance, with a cameo by Koko Taylor.  

Wild At Heart

WILD AT HEART won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1990, but got slapped with the X-rating in the U.S.  This X-rated cut only played throughout Europe.

Palm d'Or 1990

WILD AT HEART plays this weekend only at 5th Ave. Cinema.  Friday and Saturday at 7pm and 9:30pm, Easter Sundat at 3pm.  PSU students get in FREE, and the rest of us, only THREE BUCKS!

Python Coincidence??

Alright, really…what’s going on?  Cinema 21 and The Mission Theater & Pub, located within five blocks of one another, are both playing Mønti Pythøn ik den Høli Gräilen (Terry Gilliam/Terry Jones, U.K., 1975) and yet nooooobody is playing Life of Brian?  Guys, it’s EASTER!!  Do your HOMEWORK!


Anyway, check websites for details.  BTW, Cinema 21 now serves beer and wine and it’s better than the crap they serve at McMenamin’s…and you can guarantee that Cinema 21 will play a 35mm film print!

Cinema Project

Cinema Project welcomes guest curator Christopher May from TIE, The International Experimental Cinema Exposition. Founded in 2000 in Telluride, Colorado, TIE recognizes experimental and avant-garde film from around the world with a particular dedication to exploring the specific art of celluloid.

Curator and founder May travels to Portland with a selection of short films that challenge their very medium. Prolific filmmaker Paul Bartel, pokes fun at the act of filmmaking, acting, and the entertainment industry of the 1960s; while Charlotte Pryce’s 2008 The Parable of the Tulip Painter and the Fly, shot on color reversal and hand-processed, is as poetic in its subjects and imagery as it is attentive to the actual film stock. From expanded cinema and reworked found footage pieces, to experimentation with color and lenses, this two night presentation surveys work from both past and present.

There will be two different programs on April 12th and April 13th, both at 7:30pm.  To check Cinema Project’s website for details, CLICK HERE.

Merchant Ivory Online Retrospective

Founded in 1961, Merchant-Ivory Productions has for decades produced films of a truly global quality. Thanks to the dream team of American-born director James Ivory, Indian producer Ismail Merchant (who died in 2005), and German-British screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, their films set the standard for gorgeous period pieces and sophisticated literary adaptations. This month, enjoy a free sampling of six of them, ranging from the early, Bollywood-tinged comedies Shakespeare Wallah and Bombay Talkie to their award-winning E. M. Forster adaptations Howards End and Maurice.

To view this online festival at theauteurs.com, CLICK HERE.  All the films are FREE throughout the month of April…which is a good thing because the films are fuckin’ boring.

…Well, folks. this is the second to last entry for PDXFilm.  My hope was that this little blog would drum up some kind of dialogue about cinema or at the very least stir your interest to get you off your ass and into the cinema, but I almost NEVER see anyone I know who reads this thing at any of the screenings nor does anyone write to tell me they’ve been to the screenings.  PDXFilm has slowly evolved into a windmill and oh my aching back, these jousting days are coming to a close.  

But I’m gonna stick it through until the end of the month so I can at least go out by promoting the Grindhouse Trailer War next week as well as Steve McQueen’s brilliant experiential cinema debut, HUNGER.


End of the Seventies

2 04 2009

Not a whole lot to report on this week other than the NW Film Center is concluding their Seventies series starting tomorrow with LENNY (Bob Fosse, 1974) starring Dustin Hoffman as comedian Lenny Bruce.  Starts at 7pm.


On Friday and Saturday, FIVE EASY PIECES (Bob Rafelson, 1970) starring Jack Nicholson and Karen Black with a double feature of BADLANDS (Terrence Malick, 1973).  Films at 7pm and 9pm.

Five Easy Pieces