Grindhouse, Il Divo, Parallax and PDXFilm Presents a Special Screening!

25 06 2009

Last night, I lucked into the very last ticket to see David Byrne and was reminded why I prefer cinema to music venues.  At the cinema, the program starts ON TIME.  At the cinema, people don’t talk and if they do, they are scolded by the patrons.  Talking during a film is socially unacceptable and rude.  At the cinema, audiences are not constantly getting up from their seats and wandering around.  At the cinema, people don’t stand up to watch action scenes and then sit down for quiet scenes.  At the cinema, there aren’t dweeby security guards bossing the audience around.  Why is it so different?  Because at the cinema, PEOPLE PAY ATTENTION.

At the cinema, what is happening in front of the audience is all there is.  There’s no chatting up girls, no videotaping with cell phones (which makes about as much sense as videotape yourself fucking; it’s always more boring on video), no texting to your friend in the other aisle because the audience is FOCUSED, dreaming awake collectively, rapt by “The Holy Moment” of cinema.  Music venues function as backgrounds for socialization, and you know, I did not pay sixty bucks to be a guest at someone else’s party.  I came to dream, my dream of David Byrne.  I’m sorry, but I just don’t trust music venues anymore.  I’m tired of being corralled by age into specific areas and having some knuckle dragging troglodyte stamp my wrist with a beaver so I can get back in, none of which happens at the cinema.  The cinema is a place of unspoken respect for the collective experience.  So goodbye and no thanks to music.  I’ll stick to my cinema dreams where people care enough to mindfully pay full attention and respect the moment.

Now then…

Some real doozies this week.  First off, Portland’s gift to pulp cinema, Dan Halsted of Grindhouse, brings us the only surviving 35mm print of one of the most revered martial arts film ever made, 7 GRANDMASTERS (Joseph Kuo, Taiwan, 1978) shot with a glorious 2.35 super wide aspect ratio!


To quote Dan’s website, “A kung fu teacher sets out to prove that he is the greatest fighter by finding and defeating the seven Grandmasters. One by one, he fights their wide variety of animal styles (tiger, leopard, mantis, monkey, etc.) He also puts a young student through elaborate training, and is followed by a mysterious kung fu villain wearing a weird hat. Let’s be honest though, how important is the plot when a jaw-dropping kung fu fight breaks out every few minutes? Featuring all the best old school sound effects, fighting styles, martial arts weapons, and silver haired villains with maniacal laughter. Directed by the great Joseph Kuo and starring Jack Long and Mark Long (the original Ghostface Killer) This is one of the top five kung fu movies of all time!”

I’m not sure if the print is in the original Mandarin language (most HK films during this era were in Cantonese) or dubbed in English like the above trailer, but it doesn’t matter too much.  Just go.  This is an event.  Really.  I know a lot of you are fans of that Tarantino guy, but THIS is a film that Tarantino is a huuuuuuuuuuuuuge fan of.  I recommend you go to the source.

7 GRANDMASTERS plays ONE NIGHT ONLY, Saturday, June 27th at 7:45pm at The Hollywood Theatre.  Drop all your other plans and go.  If you’re new to the genre, start NOW.

Speaking of Tarantino, if anyone wants to read the script for INGLORIOUS BASTERDS (yes, that’s how he’s spelling the title), I have it so drop me a line at  I always heard he couldn’t spell worth a damn, but I had to read one of his scripts to see how bad his spelling really is.  Wow.

Also at The Hollywood Theatre starting Friday, the most dazzling, confounding, flamboyant and operatic piece of virtuoso filmmaking you’re likely to ever see, IL DIVO (Paolo Sorrentino, Italy, 2008) which won the Prix du Jury at Cannes 2008.


For the life of me, when my best friend and I saw this at PIFF last year, we couldn’t follow it at all and we really didn’t care.  It was as if we were being whisked through the history of contemporary Italian politics in a cherry red Ferrari while blaring Danse Macabre, Opus 40 by Camille Saint-Saëns with all the windows down.  We had no idea where we were or what was happening, but we were giddy like school children dizzy on lemonade.

Here.  Just watch the beginning of the movie.  It’s only two minutes long.  Watch in full screen.

And the trailer can be viewed on the official IL DIVO website HERE.

For more than 50 years, Giulio Andreotti has been Italy’s most powerful, feared and enigmatic politician. And as he begins his seventh term as Prime Minister, he and his hardliner faction take control of a country reeling from the brazen murders of several high-level bankers, judges and journalists, as well as the kidnapping and assassination of former Prime Minister Aldo Moro. But as the Christian Democrat party crumbles in a nationwide bribery scandal, suspicion begins to fall on Andreotti himself as the center of a shocking conspiracy involving the Vatican, the Mafia and the secret neo-Fascist Masonic Lodge P2. In what is called The Trial Of The Century, Italy’s legendary Senator for Life will stand accused of corruption, collusion and murder.  That’s the story, a true one, but go for the filmmaking.  MUST SEE.

IL DIVO starts Friday at The Hollywood Theatre.  Check website for showtimes.

Still playing at The Hollywood, one of the most innovative and existential thrillers you’re likely to ever see, REVANCHE (Götz Spielmann, Austria, 2008) which was nominated for Best Foreign Film last year and won countless European awards.


At once  gripping and tragic of nearly Greek proportions, REVANCHE is the stunning international breakthrough debut from Austrian filmmaker Götz Spielmann. In a ragged section of Vienna, hardened ex-con Alex (the mesmerizing Johannes Krisch) works as an assistant in a brothel, where he falls for Ukrainian hooker Tamara (Irina Potapenko). Their desperate plans for escape unexpectedly intersect with the lives of a rural cop (Andreas Lust) and his seemingly content wife (Ursula Strauss). With meticulous, elegant direction, Spielmann creates a tense, surprising portrait of vengeance and redemption, and a journey into the darkest forest of human nature, in which violence and beauty exist side by side.  This is one of the best films of the year.

Revanche – Trailer – The most popular videos are here

REVANCHE plays for one more week at The Hollywood Theatre.  Check website for showtimes.

Starting Friday at The Laurelhurst is THE PARALLAX VIEW (Alan J. Pakula, U.S., 1974) starring Warren Beatty, Paula Prentiss, Hume Cronyn and gorgeous cinematography by Gordon Willis who shot The Godfather and Annie Hall.

Parallax View

Of the three films that make up director Alan J. Pakula’s “paranoid trilogy” (Klute, All the President’s Men and THE PARALLAX VIEW), the latter most strongly conveys the paranoid atmosphere of the 1960s and ’70s. A stylish suspense-thriller, THE PARALLAX VIEW mirrors the political distrust Americans began to feel during the period following the Kennedy assassination and the Vietnam War, culminating in the Watergate conspiracy. The film stars Warren Beatty as investigative journalist Joe Frady, whose former girlfriend and colleague, Lee Carter (Paula Prentiss), witnesses the assassination of a U.S. senator at the Seattle Space Needle. A government report declares it the work of a lone gunman, but when eyewitnesses begin showing up dead, Carter is convinced that a wider conspiracy is at work. Probing deeper, Frady uncovers the operations of the Parallax Corporation, which recruits social misfits and uses mind control techniques to turn them into assassins. In keeping with classic 1970s film, the story is a suspenseful, well-acted thriller with a surprise ending that will resound with the viewer long after the credits start rolling.  Plus the film brilliantly employs the use of montage.  Check out this sequence from the testing room.  It’s genius.

THE PARALLAX VIEW starts Friday at The Laurelhurst.  Check website for showtimes.

And don’t forget, you only have one more week to see one of the best films of the year at The Laurelhurst, Jim Jarmusch’s THE LIMITS OF CONTROL.

AND LASTLY…PDXFilm Presents this coming Independence Day weekend, TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE (Trey Parker, U.S., 2004)! Yup, this July 3rd, PDXFilm is presenting one of the most subversive comedies made this decade as we celebrate the coming of a new political era (we hope) and wave goodbye to ignorance and arrogance of the Bush Era.  Come celebrate with me July 3rd at 11pm.  This screening is only SIX BUCKS!  21 and over only as Cinema 21 now serves beer and wine.


TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE, with a $30 million budget, was made entirely using marionettes in the style of the 60’s British television series, Thunderbirds.  The puppetry is deft and creative, the production design is detailed and loaded with secret jokes (the streets of Paris are cobblestones that look like croissants, to name one of many), and in typical Trey Parker form, the film holds no alliance to any politics, vilifying all abuses of power and imperiousness.  But more than that, this is also an attack on the crappy action films made in Hollywood.  Idiotic dialogue, impossible plot points, completely neutered sex scenes and lots and lots and lots of destruction and pro-military imperialism.  And I appologize in advance but the film print does not include the famous golden showers and Hot Carl scene.

TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE plays Friday, July 3rd only at 11PM.  SIX BUCKS.  21 and over only.

I’ll see you there.



The Limits of Control IS BACK!

18 06 2009

In several recent posts, I’ve waxed lyrically about THE LIMITS OF CONTROL (Jim Jarmusch, U.S., 2009), Jarmsuch’s career masterpiece and one of the best films of the year, albeit a poorly reviewed one.  And then the film poofed out of Portland.  Well, The Laurelhurst is bringing it back!


By any means necessary, pleeeeeeeeeeease come out to see this hypnotic, minimal, sensual and smart film.  Leave your expectations behind about what you feel a film should be and see something totally new and mesmerizing.  THE LIMITS OF CONTROL returns to Portland on Friday at 4:30pm and plays all weekend at that time and 9:10pm and the rest of the week at 9:40pm.  I recommend the later shows.  It’s more dreamlike that way.

Cinema Project wraps up their Spring line-up of experimental films with The Films of Amar Kanwar.

Recipient of the 1st Edvard Munch Award for Contemporary Art from Norway; Kanwar’s films have shown in galleries and festivals all over the world. In the mid eighties Kanwar became interested in filmmaking as a way to explore issues of justice. Emerging from the Indian sub continent, Kanwar’s films are complex, contemporary narratives that connect intimate personal spheres of existence to larger social political processes. The films exist at the crossroads of documentary, visual poetry and philosophical meditation; linking legends and ritual objects to new symbols and public events, which trigger emotional and intellectual disturbances in the viewer. Finding a contextual relationship with diverse audiences, Kanwar’s work maps a journey of exploration revealing our relationship with the politics of power, violence, ecology, sexuality and justice.

Plays Thursday only at 7:30pm.  Cinema Project is located at 11 NW 13th Ave on the 4th floor.

One of the most poetic films which played at this year’s Portland International Film Festival starts this Friday at The Hollywood Theatre, TREELESS MOUNTAIN (So Yong Kim, U.S./South Korea, 2008). This is her follow up film to her debut, In Between Days, which was more complex in story structure but less emotionally involving as TREELESS.


TREELESS MOUNTAIN evokes the innocence and struggle found in the films of Indian master, Satyajit Ray, as it tells the story of two very little girls who must look after one another after their mother leaves them to search for their estranged father.  More optimistic than Kore-eda’s Nobody Knows, TREELESS MOUNTAIN puts us in the perspective of the sisters as they adapt to change and instability.

Winner of the Ecumenical Jury Award at this year’s Berlin Int’l Film Festival, TREELESS MOUNTAIN is that rare film which captures youth in a way that’s universal and earnest.  DO NOT MISS.

TREELESS MOUNTAIN starts Friday at The Hollywood Theatre.

Also of interest at The Hollywood, a book signing of Theatres of Portland, which includes 217 rare and historic photos covering the entire spectrum of Portland’s rich movie theater history. The authors culled the archives and private collections to obtain many photographs that are being published for the first time in 80 years. Theatres of Portland is the first book to explore Portland’s rich movie theater past, complete with the events and architecture that made movie-going one of the city’s greatest forms of entertainment.

The event witll include a screening of the classic British comedy THE SMALLEST SHOW ON EARTH (Basil Dearden, U.K., 1957) starring Peter Sellers which tells the tale of a couple that inherits an old dilapidated movie theater and their struggles to bring it back to life.  PLEASE NOTE:  It is unconfirmed if the film will be a 35mm print or DVD.  For the sake of integrity, it better be film, doncha think?


Theatres of Portland book signing and screening at The Hollywood Theatre is Sunday, June 21st at 1PM only.

This next one makes me grumble a little bit.  Here’s the deal:  The NW Film Center is presenting THE MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA (Dziga Vertov, USSR, 1929). If that was all, that would be enough.  Dziga Vertov was a goddamn genius who is still being mimicked today.  The film is being accompanied by a band calling themselves The Alloy Orchestra, but The Alloy Orchestra is NOT an orchestra, it’s three guys.  Additionally, I am HIGHLY skeptical that NWFC will be screening a 35mm film print of THE MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA as The Alloy Orchestra released a DVD of the film with their original score.  See picture:


The problem I have with these kinds of screenings is that the screening is more about the musicians than it is about the film.  At the end, people applaud and what they applaud are musicians and not the film.  Also this weekend, and in the same vein, are a series of short Surrealist films accompanied by live music at The Clinton St. (being billed as Opera: Dada, which is rather different than Surrealism, but never mind).  Both events are about the music and not about the film.  You do not NEED a new score for Vertov’s THE MAN WITH THE MOVIE CAMERA because it is perfect in its original silent form.

At any rate, it’s playing Wednesday, June 24th at 7:30pm at The Whitsell Auditorium, if that’s your bag.  I’ll be bringing earplugs.

Lastly, this Saturday, a confirmed film print presented by Fleur de Lethal Cinematheque of Portland’s own, Todd Haynes’ VELVET GOLDMINE (U.K., 1998) starring Ewan McGregor and Jonathan Rhys Meyers in a glam rock lip lock between Iggy Pop and David Bowie (kinda sorta)!  Yummy!  Also starring Christian Bale, Toni Collette and Eddie Izzard!


Doors open at 10pm with a costume contest at 10:45pm, film at 11pm.  I can’t think of a more Portlandly kind of film because everyone wants to be glam in this city…if they only knew how.

Anyway, that’s about it.  REVANCHE, if you missed it last week, moved to The Hollywood Theatre, also one of the best from PIFF this year.

And don’t forget this:

COMING SOON from PDXFilm:  A special Independence Day screening at Cinema 21!  That’s right!  I finally get to start programming!  IT’S A DREAM COME TRUE!



light week for cinema. go fly a kite.

11 06 2009


Not much playing this week worth mentioning.  The best of the lot is REVANCHE (Götz Spielmann, Austria, 2008) which was nominated for Best Foreign Film last year and won countless European awards.



REVANCHE opens this Friday at Cinema 21.  Check website for showtimes.


Revanche – Trailer – The most popular videos are here


Sorry.  That’s it.  If you were there for the RR screening at Cinema Project, you saw one of the most special screenings this year.  A 16mm projector on the rooftop over Burnside as the sky bruised pink and violet.  Beautiful.



Secret Outdoor Screening! Truffaut! Grindhouse Double Feature!

4 06 2009

Why is it that when I explain to people that I have seen a film multiple times at the cinema, people laugh like I’m crazy?

There’s a perplexing contrast between how people view cinema and how people listen to music.  I often hear from people, “I need to listen to an album a couple of times before I know if I like it or not,”  which of course makes sense.  You do need to listen to music multiple times in order to become more open to what the music has to offer.  And the more you listen to an album you like, the more you begin to anticipate the parts you like and then that like turns to LOVE.  But why isn’t cinema viewed this way?  Why is it that most people expect cinema to clearly expose all its components in a single viewing?  Or why is it that people have been conditioned to this expectation of cinema?  Just like with any art, you have to live with it, roll it around on your tongue for a while before you can really reach a symbiosis with cinema.  Yet people only view a film once assuming that what the experienced the first time is all there is to the film.  With music, there are notes, there are lyrics, there is performance and tone and mood and that’s a lot to process.  But cinema is music AND images AND narrative AND where you were in your life when you saw it AND the audience AND AND AND.  I think the reason is because people are conditioned to think of cinema as a distraction, not as an emotional tool or a mirror or a dream or art.  It’s been on my mind a lot since THE LIMITS OF CONTROL was released.  The people who get the film are also compelled to see the film more than once, myself included.  And I have found that each time I see it, the more I love it.  At first, because I’m seeing more and understanding more.  But now it’s because I’m anticipating parts I adore and “singing along with” the film in my head at those parts, like how one would at a concert.  I fully believe that cinema should be viewed multiple times.  If something resonated for you, even if you really hated the film, it requires several viewings the same way you have to give an album another couple of tries.  So that’s my lecture for today.  My usual soapbox statement has been see more films at the cinema.  My previous philosophy, which still holds true, is see more than one film in a row.  But now I’d add to the sum total:  See more films in a row at the cinema multiple times.  You’ll be richer for it the same way it took you ten times before you realized how much you loved your favorite band.  And think of each screening at the cinema the equivalent of getting to see that favorite band LIVE.

Alright.  On with the week.  The secret number for the week is SIX.


June 6th ONLY, Cinema Project presents RR (James Benning, U.S., 2007).  RR Takes its name from an abbreviation for “railroad” and is the latest (and possibly last) 16mm work by the great American independent filmmaker James Benning, whose prolific output over the past five years has placed him at the apex of his four-decade career, and is indeed about trains traversing the expansive American landscape. Yet its deceivingly simple schema of forty-three trains chugging through the frame sets the stage for a film rich in historical allusion, articulated structure, surprise and photographic beauty. The American pastoral tradition contains its own fabled history. Benning peppers his synch-sound recording with excerpts and songs that provide a clever counterpoint to the images, obliquely invoking past events including the Vietnam War. The collaged soundtrack, which includes Karen Carpenter singing for a Coca-Cola commercial, Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land,” Eisenhower’s foreboding farewell speech warning about the military-industrial complex and Gregory Peck reading from Revelations, both digs into and participates in the American psyche. RR can be seen as a meditation on nostalgia, the unadulterated joys of waiting, Western over-consumption, and the cinema itself. Train-spotting has never been so rewarding.

Kent Jones of Film Comment, published by The Film Society of Lincoln Center, writes, “The train-watching experience itself has harmonized with cinema since its beginnings, but never as fully as it does here. Stopping to watch a train go by, to remove oneself from the constraints of planned and coordinated time as well as perceptual constancy, is indeed to ‘cede authority’—it’s one of the rare moments when we give ourselves over to purely poetic time.”  Film Comment placed RR as the sixth best unreleased film of 2008.

As exciting as the film itself, I received an email from Cinema Project with details about this special screening that read, “Meet us at our screening space at 11 NW 13th Ave on Saturday at 9PM to be escorted to the secret outdoor location.  And in the unfortunate event of rain, we will screen at our usual microcinema space.”  Wow!  A secret outdoor location to watch a film on FILM!  That’s no easy stunt!  

So really, don’t miss what will be a one time opportunity to see what may be your first (and only) screening by James Benning, RR!  Saturday ,June 6th at 9pm.


June 6th ONLY at Cinema 21 at 3pm, Actress P.J. SOLES in attendance to introduce a DVD projection of The Ramones in ROCK ‘N’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL (Allan Arkush, U.S., 1979)!!!  

168886.1020.AI asked Cinema 21 about why they’re showing a DVD and not a film print.  Apparently, the only existing print is in the UCLA Film Archive and they aren’t renting it out.  Additionally, the film is being hosted and sponsored by video store, Movie Madness, so this is partially a promotion for them.  But gee, an opportunity to meet P.J. Soles who was also in Carrie, The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, Halloween, Breaking Away, Private Benjamin AND Stripes!  Ya can’t beat it.

ROCK ‘N’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL with P.J. Soles in attendance, Saturday, June 6th at 3pm ONLY at Cinema 21.


Also at Cinema 21 starting June 6th is Paul Newman in THE HUSTLER (Robert Rossen, U.S., 1961) co-starring Jackie Gleason, George C. Scott, Piper Laurie and cameo by the original Raging Bull himself, Jake LaMotta!



THE HUSTLER was nominated for nine Academy Awards and was selected by the Library of Congress Film Registry for preservation.  Martin Scorsese directed a sequel with Paul Newman reprising his role as Fast Eddie Nelson for which he won Best Actor in a Leading Role.

THE HUSTLER plays one week at Cinema 21.  Check website for showtimes.


Starting June 6th, A goddamn Grindhouse Double Feature!  Of films from the Eighties, no less!  Get groups of friends together and go!  First up, LADY TERMINATOR, aka Nasty Hunter, aka Shooting Star, aka Pembalasan Ratu Pantai Selatan, which translates to The Revenge of the South Seas Queen (H. TJut Djalil, Indonesia, 1988), which was clearly renamed to appeal to American action fans, then addended with this tag line,  “First she mates…then she TERMINATES!”

“The infamous Indonesian action/horror mind blower.  A beautiful woman is possessed by an ancient mystical queen out for vengeance, turning her into an unstoppable killing machine!  She takes off on a rampage across Indonesia, gunning down anyone who gets in her way, and blowing apart half of the country.  She also sports a mean leather jacket…except when she’s naked…which is a lot.  But for those foolish enough to try to put their hands on her, she also castrates men with an eel that lives in her vagina.  Bullet-riddled mayhem, disco shootouts, mind-boggling dialogue, a mullet-headed cop who drives a tank, and so much more.  All in full-throttle 80’s excess!  This movie truly has to be seen to be believed.”

LADY TERMINATOR plays at 7pm nightly starting June 6th, followed by:

SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE (Amy Holden Jones, U.S., 1982).  “A group of high school girls are throwing a slumber party.  They have seemingly endless reasons to take off their clothes, before a maniac with a fondness for a power drill shows up to ruin the party.  This is one of the best 80’s slasher films, from an incredibly rare 35mm print!”

SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE plays at 9pm following LADY TERMINATOR.  Both films are $8.  


June 5th (and 6th…as well as 7th, actually) are two films by Francois Truffaut!!  SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER (France, 1960) and THE WILD CHILD (France, 1970). 


“Often overlooked, SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER, Truffaut’s wonderful second film—sandwiched between art-house evergreens The 400 Blows and Jules and Jim—stars Charles Aznavour, master of the chanson, in his only collaboration with the director. The slight singer-songwriter, playing Charlie, an ivory-tickler at a dive who abandoned his career as a celebrated concert pianist after a family tragedy, may not be so indelibly associated with Truffaut as Jean-Pierre Léaud’s Antoine Doinel, but he’s just as heartbreaking. An adaptation of David Goodis’ 1965 novel ‘Down There,’ this film more than nods to noir: Charlie is on the lam because he killed in self-defense. Truffaut said he made it in reaction to The 400 Blows, which he deemed ‘so French,’ adding that he ‘needed to show that he was influenced by American cinema.’”—Melissa Anderson, Time Out New York.

SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER plays Friday, June 5th at 7pm AND Saturday, June 6th at 9pm.


Check out how radically different the original French poster and the U.S. release poster for THE WILD CHILD are:


One of Truffaut’s most personal and widely admired films, THE WILD CHILD is based on the journals of Dr. Jean Itard (played by Truffaut himself), an 18th-century physician who set out to raise and educate a “wolf boy” found in the forests of southern France. Much of the film’s complexity and power derives from the way that Truffaut identifies with both the good doctor’s faith in civilization and the “noble savage’s” resistance to civilization. Nestor Almendros’s luminous black-and-white cinematography dazzles anew in this restored print.

THE WILD CHILD plays Friday 8:45pm, Saturday 7pm and Sunday at 5pm.  Both Truffaut films presented by The NW Film Center and screening at The Whitsell Auditorium.  FREE for PSU students!


And now for a personal guilty pleasure.

kkid jap poster

KUFO presents THE KARATE KID (John G. Avildsen, U.S., 1984) with Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita and Adventures in Babysitting’s Elisabeth Shue.  Believe it or not, THE KARATE KID was nominated for both a Golden Globe AND an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Pat Morita.  

THE KARATE KID plays Friday at 10pm only at The Bagdad.  Undetermined if this will be a film print.  In the past, when hosted by KUFO, it’s been film.


And again, if you can’t afford to go to the movies, you can see six incredible Cannes contenders made between 1959 and 1976 FOR FREE at



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.