The Limits of Control Litmus Test and Sustainable Cinema (Updated)

28 05 2009

I have a new rule about film critics.

Any critic who dismisses Jim Jarmusch’s latest film, THE LIMITS OF CONTROL, has either lost their ability to read cinema or never could.  Either way, any critic who repudiates this film has no business writing about cinema.  PERIOD.  

The Limits of Control

THE LIMITS OF CONTROL is one of the best films of the year, perhaps the whole decade, but at the very least Jarmusch’s masterpiece.  The film is a relative to two other experiential masterpieces that have come out this year, Silent Light (Carlos Reygadas, Mexico) and Hunger (Steve McQueen, U.K.).  These three films are paving a new course for cinema which relies upon atmosphere, silence and above all, visuals which are so palpable and vital that it’s impossible to escape the immediacy of each and every moment on screen.  Jarmusch, of course, is the most restrained and efficient, but just as effectively hypnotic and spiritual.  

Forget about narrative, although there is one, which may take a few viewings before able to piece it together, but after all, according to the great Surrealist, Luis Buñuel, “Mystery is a basic element  of all works of art.”  In this case, the mystery IS the story.  Who are these people?  What is the objective?  But it is right in front of your nose if you simply let itself undress before your eyes.  Modern critics usually hate mystery, or at the very least resent when it is the premise of the film that’s elusive.  To continue Buñuel’s quote, ” (Mystery) is generally lacking on screen.  Writers, directors and producers take good care in avoiding anything that may upset us.  They keep the marvelous window on the liberating world of poetry shut…But that the white eye-lid of the screen reflect it’s proper light, the Universe would go up in flames.  But for the moment we can sleep in peace: the light of the cinema is conveniently dosified and shackled.”


THE LIMITS OF CONTROL is one of those marvelous windows.  Don’t miss it. The last time I saw it, Gus Van Sant was just leaving the 7pm screening!  THE LIMITS OF CONTROL plays at The Hollywood for one week starting Friday, although hopefully it will stay for a year.


Meanwhile, shame on you, Willamette Week AND The Portland Mercury for navel gazing through 116 minutes of pure cinema poetry.  

For an unexpurgated interview with writer/director Jim Jarmusch about THE LIMITS OF CONTROL in the latest issue of Film Comment, CLICK HERE.


A sensational week for cinema yet again for our lush little town.  THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI (Orson Welles, 1947, U.S.) starring Welles and his then estranged wife, one of the sexiest women ever, Rita Hayworth.  

The Lady from Shanghai

This is another films which critics rejected because of its “rambling style used by Orson Welles (which) has occasional flashes of imagination, particularly in the tricky backgrounds he uses to unfold the yarn, but effects, while good on their own, are distracting to the murder plot,” wrote Variety upon its release.  Producer Harry Cohn detested the film because he didn’t understand it and offered $1,000 to anyone who could explain it to him, which even Welles himself couldn’t do.  Is it no surprise then that there is mention of THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI in Jarmusch’s THE LIMITS OF CONTROL?

THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI opens Friday at The Laurelhurst Theater.  Only THREE BUCKS.  Don’t miss this rare opportunity to see this elusive Welles’ experience.


This weekend only at the Northwest Film Center, Fellini’s Academy Award winning film, AMARCORD (Italy, 1973).  A carnivalesque portrait of provincial Italy during the Fascist period, Fellini’s most personal film satirizes his youth in Rimini and turns daily life into a circus of social rituals, adolescent desires, male fantasies, and political subterfuge, all set to Nina Rota’s nostalgia-tinged score.


“A film of exhilarating beauty… as full of tales as Scheherazade, some romantic, some slapstick, some elegiac, some bawdy, some as mysterious as the unexpected sight of a peacock flying through a light snowfall.” —Vincent Canby, The New York Times. Academy Award, Best Foreign Film.

FELLINI’S AMARCORD plays this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 7pm at The Whitsell Auditorium.  And remember, PSU students attend for FREE!


Portland State University’s Fifth Avenue Cinema is back on the repertory programming radar with the haunting SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE (Victor Erice, Spain, 1973).  


Erice’s debut film is considered one of the masterpieces of Spanish cinema.  The lighting drips with honey colors and a mysterious dread, which oddly suits the sense of emerging sexuality in these young girls world amidst black cats, black trains, engulfing flames and poisonous mushrooms.  This is a film that feels like it came from the imagination of a dark and curious teenage girl’s dream which teeters on the the edge of losing its innocence.  


In the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, Ana, a sensitive 7-year old girl in a rural Spanish hamlet is traumatized after a traveling projectionist screens a print of James Whale’s 1931, Frankenstein, for the village. The youngster is profoundly disturbed by the scenes in which the monster murders a little girl and is later murdered himself by the villagers. Ana begins to question her sister about the profoundities of life and death and believes her older sister when she tells Ana that the monster is not dead, but exists as a spirit inhabiting a nearby barn. When a Loyalist soldier, a fugitive from Franco’s victorious army, hides out in the barn, Ana crosses from reality into a fantasy world all her own.

THE SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE plays this weekend only at The 5th Avenue Cinema Friday and Saturday at 7pm and 9:30pm, Sunday at 3pm.  PSU students get in FREE!  For the rest of us, it’s only THREE BUCKS!


Now it’s time to HIDE YO’ MAMAS because TRUCK TURNER (Jonathan Kaplan, U.S., 1974) is HERE!  Isaac Hayes (Chef from South Park) stars as Mac Turner, and when he’s not making the ladies swoon, he’s busting cons who skip bail. He’s out to catch a pimp named Gator, but along the way he stirs up all kinds of trouble with the seedy 70’s underworld. A price is put on Truck’s head: a stable of ho’s is the prize for killing him.


Yaphet Kotto plays a ruthless pimp out to collect, and Truck is forced to fight back. This movie is filled with great dialogue, action packed excitement, and an amazing Isaac Hayes soundtrack. A rare 35mm print with 70’s baadasssss blacksploitation trailers before the movie. 

TRUCK TURNER is playing SATURDAY NIGHT ONLY at 7PM at The Hollywood Theater.  You really, really, really don’t want to miss this one!  If you’re new or skeptical of these Grindhouse screenings, this one is pure fun and the more friends you bring, the more fun it will be!  Grindhouse screenings are as much about the enthusiasm of the audience as it is about the glory of cheap thrill cinema!  GO GO GO!  There’ll be so much ACTION, it’ll put you in TRACTION, JACKSON!  SEE TRUCK TURNER!!!

THIS JUST IN!  Loyal Grindhouse sponsor Bridge City Comics is giving away a pair of free tickets FRIDAY, MAY 29th ONLY at their store: 3725 N Mississippi Ave.  The tickets must be picked up in person.  First come, first served.


Now if you want some sleaze, and by that I mean some really god awful filmmaking with a little bit of T & A here and there (but very, very tame) to keep you from clawing your eyes out, The Clinton Street Theater is resurrecting (and Lord knows why) two 1960’s films: NIGHT OF LUST (José Bénazéraf, France, 1963), with music featuring Chet Baker (!) followed by BABES IN THE WOODS (A.A. Krovek, U.S., 1962).  Both of these are about an hour long each.  NIGHT OF LUST is a French crime potboiler starring Verner and Kalfon as rival gang leaders who clash over control of the Parisian narcotics trade and BABES IN THE WOODS, reads the Clinton St. Theater website,  “Lost for over 40 years, this will be the first Public Screenings since 1963!!!  Follow 3 gorgeous ladies as they go to camp, finding plenty of mischeif (sic) along the way.”

Night of Lust

NIGHT OF LUST/BABES IN THE WOODS play June 1st-4th starting at 7pm.  Tickets for both only $6.  There’s beer at the pub next door you can take into the theater.  You’re gonna need it.


Speaking of sleaze, Soderbergh is back to bore us again with another one of his low budget experiments (which is always slightly more interesting than when he bores us with his Hollywood movies), THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE starring cock gagging porn star, Sasha Gray.  Don’t know who Sasha Gray is?  If you want to be turned off of sex FOREVER, watch HERE.  WARNING:  It is vile and degrading and that’s…Sasha Gray for ya!  To me, Sasha Gray is the antithesis of good sex.


Thankfully, Soderbergh’s film has none of Gray’s “talents” on display.  Still, rest easy that you’ll be done with this 77 minute experiment in no time to go take a shower.  The trailer is nice though.

THE GFE opens Friday at Cinema 21.


I would be remiss if I didn’t mention PDX Queer Doc Fest.  It runs May 28th-May 31st.  Some really fabulous and exciting films will be playing, curated by co-director of the brilliant queer doc, The Cockettes, David Weissman.  Weissman and his partner, Russ Gage, really do their homework and bring not just queer content to the fest, but GOOD FILMS, which is so often lacking in the gay film fest scene.  This fest is solid.  


Check out their website at and their youtube page by clicking HERE.


Lastly this week, Sam Raimi is back in form with his new horror film, DRAG ME TO HELL and Pixar is going to reduce us all to laughter and tears with UP.  Now listen, these may be really fantastic films and I’ll most likely go myself, but it’s time to start thinking about cinema as part of a sustainable culture.  There is so much great cinema that is seasonal and crops up for only a week or  even one night.  Those are the films you should be seeking out.  Support your local cinema agriculture, watch at local cinemas and watch these fresh and rare screenings.  Films like Star Trek and Drag Me To Hell and Up are vacuumed sealed and have a longer shelf life.  So see these local screenings while you can.  You’ll feel healthier because you’ll be part of a community.  


One other new film which may get neglected is the new Atom Egoyan film, ADORATION (Canada, 2009) which won the Ecumenical Jury Prize in Cannes 2008.  


ADORATION is another drama mystery like his best work, The Sweet Hereafter and Exotica and is a return to Egoyan’s unique and haunting vision.

Opens Friday at Fox Tower.


One other thing…I’m not a fan but I have friends who are.  An alleged 35mm print of PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE will play at The Bagdad, but as usual, I’m skeptical.  Even when I write and call in advance, they still are interested in one thing and that’s selling concessions, NOT cinema.  So be warned.  It plays Friday at 10pm (and actually Adventureland and Observe and Report play before that, so that might be a great triple feature) and again Saturday at 2pm.  You could be paying for a DVD.


And finally, is giving away cinema masterpieces for FREE yet again!!!  Melissa, you guys are making it hard for me to leave my computer off at night!


CRIA CUERVOS (Carlos Saura, Spain, 1976), which would be a perfect compliment to this weekend’s screening of SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE at 5th Ave Cinema as well as Saura’s latest film which opens Friday at The Hollywood Theater, FADOS.  At any rate, this is Saura’s best and in my opinion, the best Spanish film made.


L’AVVENTURA (Antonioni, Italy 1960),  which next to Godard’s Breathless is one of the most important films of 1960 as well as the most poetic.


CLÉO FROM 5 TO 7 (Agnès Varda, France, 1962), which is one of the best Nouvelle Vague films by the movement’s one female filmmaker.  

Plus three more: Black Orpheus, Harakiri and The Cranes Are Flying.  AND they’re still showing SIX free documentaries: Monterey Pop, Burden of Dreams, Harlan County USA, For All Mankind, Salesman and Idi Amin.  AAAAAAAAND four MORE free films which are part of the World Cinema Foundation restoration project.  That’s SIXTEEN films to watch in hi-res streaming.  ALL FREE.

For those of you on a budget or who hate going to the cinema because you are too misanthropic (get over it and come out to play), is the best arthouse cinema website, period.  GO THERE NOW.


P.S. Congratulations to Michael Haneke for winning the Palm d’Or (finally!!) and Andrea Arnold for the Jury Prize (two years in a row having made only two films!).  And Tarantino…NAH NA NA NA NAAAAAAH NAH!  THHHHHHHhhhhhrrrp.



21 05 2009

This week brings us a bundle of eclectic repertory programming thanks in part to the first Wordstock Book-to-Film Festival.  More on that later.  But first…

Starting Friday, May 22nd, The Northwest Film Center presents Jean Luc Godard’s MADE IN U.S.A. (France, 1967) starring Anna Karina in her final collaboration with ex-husband Godard, long time Truffaut collaborator Jean-Pierre Léaud and singer Marianne Faithfull.


This is a brand new restored widescreen 35mm film print and is currently not available on DVD.  More importantly, the film was never released in the United States because Godard and the producer never got the rights to adapt the book into a film.  So this is THE FIRST U.S. release of this Godard film.  

Last week I quoted Godard, “All you need in the movies is a gun and a girl” in the context of the new Jarmusch film, The Limits of Control (which plays for another week at Cinema 21), and so it goes with Godard’s MADE IN U.S.A. about as successfully.  

Karina is Paula Nelson, a female version of Humphrey Bogart (the film itself was inspired by Howard Hawks’ The Big Sleep), wrapped in the trademark trench coat with the necessary gun in hand. When her former fiancé turns up dead, both the cops and the underworld take an interest in her. Boldly cartoonish, from its color schemes to its quotation-marked characters to its treatment of screen violence, MADE IN U.S.A. is dedicated to American crime movies (specifically those of Sam Fuller and Nicolas Ray), and is a politically fueled deconstruction of the genre.

MADE IN U.S.A. is mostly a curiosity more than a true Godard film as he made the film as a favor to the producer after he ran up against a backlash from the last film he produced, the subversive and brilliant Jacques Rivette film, The Nun, also starring Karina.

Godard made MADE IN U.S.A. at the same time as he was shooting Two Or Three Things I Know About Her and so perhaps because it was made so quickly, it pales compared to other Godard films of this era.  Regardless, you will never get a chance to see a premiere of a Godard film from the Nouvelle Vague era again, so this is a special screening not to be missed. 


Friday at 7pm and 9pm, Saturday at 7pm and 9pm and Sunday at 5pm and 7:15pm at The Whitsell Auditorium.  This is one of the big film events in Portland this year.  DO NOT MISS THIS CHANCE TO BE PART OF HISTORY!


The Wordstock Book-to-Film Festival plays this weekend only.  All the films playing are book adaptations and that’s about all they have in common other than being mostly great cinema.  This is a list of highlight films only but for a complete list, check out the Wordstock website HERE.

Also, all films listed here are confirmed to be 35mm film prints by the film coordinator at McMenamins.

UPDATE: McMenamins is showing a DVD of A Clockwork Orange!  Do NOT attend!  

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (Stanley Kubrick, U.K., 1971).  In the U.S., the film was given an X-rating and in the U.K., Kubrick himself had the film removed from distribution because of the copycat crimes that were being committed. The ban was vigorously pursued during Kubrick’s lifetime.

clockwork orange quad

While I was at film school in London, one of the most infamous repertory art house cinemas, The Scala Cinema at Kings Cross, scheduled a “mystery screening” and advertised it on their March 1993 schedule as “Droogs in the Dock!”   A mere 150 people showed up and the film was A CLOCKWORK ORANGE.  The Scala Cinema was sued because they defied the ban and lost forcing one of the greatest cinemas in London, if not the world, into receivership, breaking the hearts of cinephiles throughout the city.

 Kubrick refused to lift the ban to save the cinema.  

Scala April 1993

Droog in the Dock

If you have never seen A CLOCKWORK ORANGE at a cinema, it is essential.  I cannot stress this enough.  I realize for many the film has become a staple of cult cinema, but please revisit this film whenever you get the chance not just because it’s great cinema, but because (roll out the bunting) we live in a country where censorship is not tolerated, even if it’s self-enforced. 

At the very least, turn off the lights and watch this amazing trailer in full screen:

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE plays at The Mission Theater (1624 NW Glisan)  Saturday at 2pm and Sunday at 7:30pm.


Also playing at The Mission is another film originally given an X-rating yet won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay, MIDNIGHT COWBOY (John Schlesinger, U.S., 1969) starring Dustin Hoffman and John Voight.  


By the way, Kubrick’s A CLOCKWORK ORANGE was the only other X-rated film to be nominated for Best Picture.

MIDNIGHT COWBOY plays at The Mission Theater on Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 2pm.


One more film of note playing at Wordstock, only because it rarely ever gets a theatrical screening is FAHRENHEIT 451 (Francois Truffaut, France, 1966) starring Oskar Werner and Julie Christie, adapted from the Ray Bradbury novel.  There will be one other obscure Truffaut film playing next week, so if you are a completist, you’ll want to see this as well.  


FAHRENHEIT 451 was Truffaut’s first film in color and his only English language film.  That said, this is a minor Truffaut flm and was mostly shrugged off upon its release.

FAHRENHEIT 451 plays at The Bagdad Theater Saturday at 2pm and Sunday at 7:45pm.

All tickets to Wordstock films are only THREE BUCKS!  WOW!  Again, check out their website for info on other films!


Yet again, is creating some very exciting online programming.  In addition to a month long run of free documentaries (as reported in previous PDXFilm entries and can be seen HERE), they are offering free films from the World Cinema Foundation!

Vanguard Restoration

The World Cinema Foundation was created in 2007 with the purpose of rescuing and distributing obscure international cinema, films that would otherwise have been lost forever.  To view the films, CLICK HERE.

For more information about how YOU can get involved in the preservation and restoration of cinema, please visit the World Cinema Foundation website HERE.  


That’s it for this week!  Check last week’s entry for a list of newer independent cinema in first run like Jarmusch’s THE LIMITS OF CONTROL!

COMING SOON…Paul Newman in THE HUSTLER, Fellini’s AMARCORD, Orson Welles’ THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI, another baadasssss Grindhouse screening, TRUCK TURNER starring Isaac Hayes and MUCH MUCH MORE!



Indies Attack!

14 05 2009

This week is a minor miracle for independent cinema.  I can’t recall the last time eight independent films opened in one weekend, most of which stand to be quite good.  Because there are so many, I’m going to give brief overviews of each.  Ready?  Here we go!

The big one is THE LIMITS OF CONTROL (Jim Jarmusch, U.S.) starring Isaach de Bankolé, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt and Gael Garcia Bernal.  Opens this Friday at Cinema 21.  


Jean Luc Godard once said that all you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun, which I always thought was stupid…but if it means a full lipped, naked brunette with dark rimmed glasses and a gun, then I’d have to unconditionally agree despite what all the reviews are saying.  SEE TRAILER BELOW.


Another film starring Gael Garcia Bernal opens this Friday, RUDO Y CURSI (Carlos Cuaron, Mexico) which is Cuaron’s directorial debut, though better known as the screenwriter for Y Tu Mama Tambien, directed by brother Alfonso Cuaron.  


The story of two brothers who play soccer, RUDO Y CURSI (aka Rough and Vulgar) opens at The Fox Tower.


Another sports related film opening at The Fox Tower, SUGAR (Ann Boden & Ryan Fleck, U.S.), tells the story of a young Dominican hired to play minor league baseball in the U.S.  Boden and Fleck gave us the brilliant Ryan Gosling teacher pic two years ago, Half Nelson.


If you like sports, maybe you’ll like it.  I saw this at PIFF this year and I gotta quote Martin Scorsese for this one, “Sports?  Anything with a ball, no good.”


Another multiethnic indie pic opening at The Fox Tower, GOODBYE SOLO (Ramin Bahrani, U.S.) about a Senegalese cab driver who picks up an old fart who intends to hurtle himself off the precipice into oblivion.  Cabbie Solo takes it upon himself to try to inspire him to live.

goodbye solo

Bahrani directed last year’s brilliant indie, Chop Shop, the latter being the stronger pic but Bahrani still does well at capturing relaxed performances.  And I gotta apologize to my friend, filmmaker Ramin Serry, for mentioning GOODBYE SOLO at all as he is often confused for Bahrani.  Sorry, man.  I’ll be sure to talk up Loveless when I finally get to see a freakin’ cut!


IS ANYBODY THERE? (John Crowley, U.K.) starring Michael Caine is another coming of old-age tale from the director of the gritty Boy A.

is anybody there

Caine plays an aging magician and Bill Milner (from Son of Rambow) plays a child obsessed with death.  Opens at The Fox Tower.


So those are the biggies of the indies.  Others are pretty milquetoast as they do nothing more than continue the banal lives of the middle class, MANAGEMENT (Stephen Belber, U.S.), shot in Portland with Horseyface Aniston and Steve Zahn and is T.V. writer Belber’s directorial debut and LYMELIFE (Derick & Steve Martini, U.S.), their follow up to the crappy Smiling Fish & Goat on Fire, which proves to suck just as much.  I met these two douchy douches at Sundance years ago and man oh man I’ve never met two bigger dicks in the industry.  Am I being overly harsh?  Look at the tag line for their own movie…


Uh huh.  See that.  “The American dream sucks.”  That’s gonna be the level of insight you’re gonna get.  AVOID.

And ADVENTURELAND (Greg Mottola, U.S.) has moved to both The Hollywood Theatre, where you can pay six bucks, and The Laurelhurst, where you can pay three bucks and drink beer.  Easy choice.  Mottola made the brilliant short film, Swingin’ in the Painter’s Room (1989), the hilarious feature debut, The Daytrippers (1996), and out-apatowed Judd Apatow with Superbad (2006). 


ALRIGHT!  Now onto the good stuff!  Portland doesn’t have any real art museums nor real sports teams nor real pizza nor a real ballet nor a world class symphony nor a lot of things, but one thing it does right is zombie themed events.  THE ZOMPIRE FILM FESTIVAL launches with a Zombie Prom!  How fun is that!?!  And I think the next day there is a Zombie Walk.  Goto for details.

At any rate, the film festival kicks off this weekend at The Hollywood Theatre.  Films to see are DAY OF THE DEAD (George A. Romero, U.S., 1985), the gorgeous and stylish PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES (Mario Bava, U.S., 1965) and the Nineties comedy horror classic, CEMETERY MAN (Michele Soavi, Italy, 1994).  

BE WARNED: ZOMPIRE is not for cinephiles and therefore may not be showing film prints!!  Last year’s fest was limited to DVD projection.  Eh. What can you expect from the undead?


The Laurelhurst will be playing the original 3:10 TO YUMA (Delmer Daves, U.S., 1957) starting on Friday.  



And The Northwest Film Center will be playing LOLA MONTES (Max Ophuls, France, 1955).  In Godard on Godard, JLG wrote that Stanley Kubrick was nothing more than a copy of Ophuls.  So you Kubrick fans, go do your homework!  See where Kubrick stole his use of long camera moves!  

lola montes

Martine Carol stars as the legendary Spanish courtesan and adventuress whose lovers included Franz Liszt and King Ludwig of Bavaria. Lola’s life and loves are recalled by the circus master (Peter Ustinov) who made this beguiling beauty his central attraction. The final film from master stylist Ophüls features his trademark long takes and steadily moving camera, as well as a sharp and relevant critique on the culture of celebrity. This stunning new edition of LOLA MONTÈS restores the film’s original stereo soundtrack and brings Ophüls’ remarkable color scheme back to life. “Back in 1962, I hailed LOLA MONTÈS as the greatest film of all time, and I stand by that judgment.”—Andrew Sarris, The Village Voice. “One of the essential films … Beautiful and heartbreaking.”—David Thomson.

LOLA MONTES plays Saturday and Sunday at The Whitsell Auditorium at 7pm.


Cinema 21 has very tastefully been paying tribute to the films of Paul Newman this Spring with Hud (1963), Paris Blues (1961) and this June will be The Hustler (1961).  But ya know, the Paul Newman film I’ve been dying to see on the big screen since he died is SLAP SHOT (George Roy Hill, U.S., 1977).  


Hill also had directed Newman in The Sting (1973) and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969).  SLAP SHOT writer, Nancy Dowd, went on to write Coming Home (1978), which won Best Picture, Straight Time (1978) with Dustin Hoffman, Ordinary People (1980), which won Best Picture and…the infamous Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (1981), which should be playing in Portland every month, if you ask me!

At any rate, SLAP SHOT is a brilliant comedy about hockey (NOTE: no ball involved=good).  It plays at The Clinton Street Theater starting Friday.  Tuesday screening is only FOUR BUCKS!


For those of you new to PDXFilm, the purpose of this site is to offer the best cinema that Portland has to offer every week.  If I don’t mention the film, it’s because something is lacking.  This blog is for people who like a little cinema in their cinema.  If I don’t mention a film playing in Portland, it’s probably deliberate.  


SO that’s it.  Cannes Film Festival began today.  This stands to be one of the most historic festivals in decades, so stay tuned for updates.  Also, don’t forget the six free online documentaries on

COMING UP…A brand new 35mm print of Godard and Karina’s final collaboration, MADE IN U.S.A, which proves you really DO need more than a girl and a gun to make a movie!  Sorry, JLG.


PDXFilm Returns! Now with Xtra Vitriol!

7 05 2009

Alright, I give in.  I’m back.  I really thought no one was paying any attention to this little blog, and then I got an email from thanking me for the mention of their free online films.  That was a total surprise and an honor.  If you haven’t visited and you are a discerning cinephile interested in contemporary foreign cinema (and some old art house classics too), please check out what they’re up to.  They are the real deal.  And at the bottom of this entry is a reiteration of what I posted earlier this week, so check it out!  FREE CINEMA!  YIPEE!

Plus there is another reason, but it shall remain a secret until after summer!  Shh…

Meanwhile, back in this pluvial, blustery Portland town as Spring messily rages its teenage hormones and beauty all over the place, there’s some great films playing!

First up, tonight starts the PDX Film Festival, which is the only experimental film festival in town thanks in part to our beloved Cinema Project which curates great experimental films all year round.  I heart Cinema Project.  I (what’s the opposite of heart?) colon cancer PDX Film Festival.  In the past, it’s mostly been total wanker vomit eating, feces masturbating shite, so I am normally not just skeptical but violently mortified of the programming.  After all, that’s where twee queen Miranda “July” Grossinger got her candy coated key to the city (which she then took and promptly shoved it up Portland’s collective arse on her way out).  But this year’s PDX Film Festival has ties with Cinema Project, so with any luck it won’t make you want to gouge out your eyes.  I just hope that not every film is introduced by saying, “So (sniffle, sniffle) getting a print of this film (sniffle, snort) was really, really really, REALLY hard, I want you all to know because it was sooooo hard for me and  you bitches better appreciate how much work it was for me to find this.  Aren’t I such a cinemartyr?”  Clap clap, pat pat, well done, olé, Autumn.

For more information on PDX Film Festival, GOOGLE IT.

Actually, WWeek wrote a terrific and often hilariously honest article about the fest and some of its films.  CLICK HERE for WWeek article.

AND NOW, on with the real cinema!

There’s some really remarkable repertory programming this week. This month at Laurelhurst comes a month of classics starting with THE TREASURE OF SIERRA MADRE (John Huston, U.S., 1948) starring Humphrey Bogart.  “Badges!?!  WE DON’T NEED NO STINKIN’ BADGES!”


A few weeks before I was shipped off to film school in London, my father thought it would be a good idea if I got myself some good ol’ fashioned classic American cinema under my belt and this was the first film he showed me.  It is absolutely brilliant storytelling and I would guess the reason it resonated with my father so deeply is that the journey ends with a kind of existential joke.  THE TREASURE OF SIERRA MADRE starts this Friday and plays nightly at 7pm with Sat/Sun. matinees at 1:15pm.  ONLY THREE BUCKS!

Two of my all time favorite films from my formative years will be playing this weekend.  The first is THE TENANT (Roman Polanski, France, 1976) starring cute little adorable pedophile Roman Polanski himself (in drag, towards the end) and smoldering crackpot Isabelle Adjani, with a hilarious cameo by Shelley Winters as the concierge.  Gorgeous cinematography by Bergman veteran, Sven Nykvist and a lush, haunting score by the great Philippe Sarde.  This film is Kafkaesque, absurd and spooky, if not also somewhat silly and would be perfect bedmates with the Coen Bros’ Barton Fink.  


I’ve always had a hard time remembering dialogue, except for one section of this film.  As Polanski and Adjani are getting ready to bed each other, Polanski says, “At what precise moment does an individual stop being who he thinks he is? Cut off my arm. I say, ‘Me and my arm.’  You cut off my other arm. I say, ‘Me and my two arms.’  You take out my stomach, my kidneys, assuming that were possible, and I say, ‘Me and my intestines.’  And now, if you cut off my head would I say, ‘Me and my head’ or ‘Me and my body’?”

A little Cartesian humor does me good.


Opening titles to THE TENANT

THE TENANT plays Friday, Saturday at 7pm and 9:30pm and Sunday at 3pm at Fifth Avenue Cinema at PSU.  ONLY THREE BUCKS!  If you’re a PSU student, it’s FREE!


Next up, THE MUPPET MOVIE (James Frawley, U.S., 1979)!  Yup, pretty weird to not see Jim Henson’s name there, ain’t it?  But true.  He had enough to focus on with getting Kermit riding a bicycle and so forth.  At any rate, I think I saw this ten times when I was a kid.  Any time some kid said that he and his family were going, I’d tag along.  For me, Jim Henson is my sense of humor, period.  But this film also tugs right at my heartstrings when the film studio collapses at the end and Kermit breaks the fourth wall and sings, “Life’s like a movie, write you’re own ending, keep believing, keep pretending…”  That got me EVERY SINGLE TIME…and still does.


Be sure to look for cameos by recently deceased Dom DelLuise, Milton Berle, Mel Brooks, James Coburn, Elliott Gould, Bob Hope, Madeline Kahn (I heart Madeline Kahn!  “Be my ECHO!”)… 

…Richard Pryor, Orson Welles, Steve Martin and many more!

THE MUPPET MOVIE plays at The Whitsell Auditorium Thursday May 7th at 7pm and again Saturday May 9th at 2pm.


Also at The Whitsell Auditorium on Sunday May 10 at 7pm, LABYRINTH (Jim Henson, U.K., 1986) with David Bowie and baby fat cheeked Jennifer Connelly who never responded to any of my letters as a teenager which is fine now because she turned out to be rather boring.


And now for some Mother’s Day specials from McMenamins.  Douglas Sirk’s IMITATION OF LIFE (1959) plays two matinees on Saturday and Sunday, and yes, it is a 35mm film print!  Crazy, ain’t it?

Click HERE for trailer.

On Saturday at 2:30pm at The Mission is a 35mm film print of MILDRED PIERCE (Michael Curtiz, U.S., 1945) with Joan Crawford.  Later that night…

MOMMIE DEAREST (Frank Perry, U.S., 1981) with Faye Dunaway playing Joan Crawford, the child beating mommy.  BE WARNED:  This will be a DVD and people are encouraged to dress like Crawford.  With any luck, there will be a few drag queens up for The Golden Hanger Award!


And now for those of you looking for free movies…

In the past, I’ve reported that The Criterion Collection and have combined forces to create a monthly online free film festival, and they have been rather uneven in quality.  But this month’s festival is truly great and all films are highly recommended.

Click HERE for’s free online film festival. 

auteurs doc fest


Additionally, is offering a free screening of Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s CLIMATES (Turkey, 2006).  If you’re unfamiliar with his films, his work is minimal on dialogue and editing, high on mise en scene.  CLIMATES was nominated for the Golden Palm and won the FIPRESCI Prize at Cannes.  This is a very nice gift from so check it out!

Click HERE to watch CLIMATES for free!

Free Docs on!

3 05 2009

Alright, so my enthusiasm for cinema can’t be contained so I’m writing another (quick) entry despite my attempt to retire this blog.

In the past, I’ve reported that The Criterion Collection and have combined forces to create a monthly online free film festival, and they have been rather uneven in quality.  But this month’s festival is truly great and all films are highly recommended.

Click HERE for’s free online film festival. 

auteurs doc fest


Additionally, is offering a free screening of Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s CLIMATES (Turkey, 2006).  If you’re unfamiliar with his films, his work is minimal on dialogue and editing, high on mise en scene.  CLIMATES was nominated for the Golden Palm and won the FIPRESCI Prize at Cannes.  This is a very nice gift from so check it out!

Click HERE to watch CLIMATES for free!

Climates at

And as for Portland screenings, do not miss this rare opportunity to see the films of experimental film pioneer Bruce Conner at The Northwest Film Center this coming Tuesday at 7pm presented by the Bruce Conner Family Trust.

There’s other great stuff playing around town, like the Jim Henson retrospective, but the Bruce Conner screening is the one really worth mentioning.