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.





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