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.