Cinema 21 Program Notes

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Program Notes


Two Weeks: September 23 - October 6

El Crimen Perfecto (The Perfect Crime)

Premiere (2004, 105 minutes)

Official Site View Trailer IMDB Entry

She's a deceptively shy and insecure salesgirl. But, as acted by Monica Cervera, she turns out to be a fiercely determined, sexually insatiable, all-seeing Medusa in this latest film from Alex de la Iglesia (The Day of the Beast). Cervera plays Lourdes, a homely clerk who more or less blackmails a womanizer, who is also a clothing salesman in the same department store, to marry her. When he finds her insatiable demands a nightmare he attempts to come up with the perfect murder. The Alternative Film Guide calls El Crimen Perfecto a "gritty satire on our perverted social and personal values," while Twitch.com calls it "a gorgeous film to look at, shot and cut with pizzazz and filled with pitch-perfect characters and performances."

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One Week: October 7 - 13

THE FUTURE OF FOOD

Premiere (2004, 88 minutes)

Official Site View Trailer IMDB Entry

"You are what you eat," goes the old dicta of the '60s, but never has that been truer than in the last 10 years, with the advent of genetic engineering, the massive expansion of pesticide companies like Monsanto into the seed business, the patenting of life but without the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food, and with research conducted on these issues by universities beholden to the "agri-corps" who fund them and, even worse, with major regulatory agencies run by former execs from these very companies, all while average citizens remain blissfully unaware that they are consuming GMO food and supporting the aggressive corporatization of food sources. Thus we are radically changing the very nature of our food system to reflect what we have become as human beings. In what Sheri Linden of Boxoffice calls an "important documentary," THE FUTURE OF FOOD ponders these issues. Shooting her film over the course of three years, director Deborah Koons Garcia traveled the globe, visiting the northern sierras of Oaxaca, Mexico, the vast farmlands of Saskatchewan, Canada, and the community supported farms of California to tell her tale, among other locales in India, Europe, and Africa. Stephen Holden of the New York Times says that THE FUTURE OF FOOD is a "sober, far-reaching polemic against genetically modified foods that poses many ticklish ethical and scientific questions." James Crawford of the Village Voice adds that it is an "exposé that attempts to raise the level of public debate through responsible research and sober rhetoric."

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Begins September 30, 2005

Portland Lesbian & Gay Film Festival

Please see http://www.plgff.org for complete program and schedule information!!!

Festival: October 14 - 20

PORTLAND LESBIAN & GAY FILM FESTIVAL

(Which includes shows on October 22 and 23 at Hollywood Theatre.)

The Portland Lesbian & Gay Film Festival (PLGFF) welcomes everyone to its exciting ninth annual edition. Among the most anticipated films of the fall season is a love story about two gay cowboys that spans two decades of their lives. It features two of Hollywood's biggest male stars, is directed by a successful auteur whose body of work spans several genres and cultures, is based on the novel by a Pulitzer-prize-winning author, has received ecstatic praise after initial screenings and it will not be featured at this or any other gay and lesbian film festival across the nation. But not too long ago, the studio behind such a film would have been courting festivals, hoping to have it included in their programming. Years ago, PLGFF people found it much more difficult to find films in which gay themes and characters were represented. But times have changed. We have decided that the Festival should acknowledge and reflect those changes in the culture. This year the PLGFF broadens the scope of its programming. We are featuring films that may or may not be overtly PLGFF-themed, but will appeal to the audiences we attract during the festival. While we will continue to focus mainly on PLGFF programming in the festival, we want to expand the idea of what "queer" and "crossover" audiences want: that is, high quality films with sophisticated themes that resonate and transcend their genres. This year' a showcase of titles reflecting our expanding view include Winter Passing, Where the Truth Lies, Transamerica, The Dying Gaul and Jesus is Magic; all meet these criteria. These films feaure high profile actors including Will Ferrell (!), Ed Harris, Zoe Deschanell, Kevin Bacon, Alison Lohman, Colin Firth, Felicity Huffman, Patricia Huffman, Campbell Scott, Peter Sasgaard, and Sarah Silverman. These films and the rest of this year's festival lineup are the best the season has to offer. We've got films we hope you will discover while waiting for your gay cowboys. Visit www.plgff.org for the full schedule and updates.

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One Week: October 21 - 27

The War Within

Premiere (2005, 90 minutes)

Official Site View Trailer IMDB Entry

Emerson wrote, "Great men, great nations, have been perceivers of the terror of life, and have manned themselves to face it. Without an understanding informed by empathy, we are not manned to face the new world in which we have found ourselves." That is the creed adopted by director Joseph Castelo for his drama about the motivations for terrorism. The War Within tells the story of Hassan (Ayad Akhtar), a Pakistani engineering student in Paris who is apprehended by western intelligence services for suspected terrorist activities. After his interrogation, Hassan undergoes a radical transformation and embarks upon a terrorist mission, surreptitiously entering the United States to join a cell based in New York City. After meticulous planning for an event of maximum devastation, all the members of the cell are arrested, except for Hassan and one other. With no alternative and nowhere else to turn, Hassan must rely on the hospitality of his former best friend Sayeed (Firdous Bamji), who is living the American dream with his family in New Jersey. Deciding to go forward and carry out his own attack, Hassan takes advantage of Sayeed's generosity while plotting his strategy and amassing materials to create explosives. Eventually, Hassan's skewed religious fervor clashes with his feelings for Sayeed and his family, especially Sayeed's sister Duri. Kim Linekin of the Toronto Eye admires The War Within's "admirably frank dialogue that challenges both Western and Muslim fundamentalist ways of life." Richard James Havis of the Hollywood Reporter adds that the film does a "good job of laying out the basic political motives behind Islamic terrorism."

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One Week: October 28 - November 3

Three Extremes

Premiere (2004, 118 minutes)

Unofficial Site IMDB Entry

Known as J-Horror to its many fans, this relatively new genre of horror films from Asian countries such as Japan and Korea has become the go-to genre for cult film aficionados. Films such as Ringu and The Grudge eventually are remade in Hollywood but usually lack the creepiness, mystery, and sheer oddity (to western eyes, at least) of their Asian progenitors. Now, taking a page from American and British cinema's long tradition of anthology horror films, comes THREE EXTREMES, which gathers together scary tales from a trio of the best J-Horror practitioners. Japanese cult figure Takashi Miike (Audition), Hong Kong's Fruit Chan (Finale in Blood), and Korea's award-winning Park Chan-Wook (Oldboy) unite in what Eric Campos of Film Threat calls "a rock event for lovers of Asian cinema" to offer up tales of ghosts, dread, and vengeance. Ed Gonzalez of Slant admires the three short films' "chilling structuralist rigor," while Francesca Dinglasan of Boxoffice finds that the three tales "gel together smoothly to form a complementary and memorable final product both fascinating and utterly horrific." For more information about THREE EXTREMES please visit <www.lionsgatepublcity.com>.

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One Week: November 4 - 10

DORIAN BLUES

Premiere (2004, 83 minutes)

Official Site View Trailer IMDB Entry

"Coming out" movies have developed into a genre of their own, but none are as unusual and interesting as Tennyson Bardwell's drama, which Lou Lumenick of the New York Post says "has a lot of heart." It is also very funny and very well acted. Dorian Lagatos (Michael McMillian) is a gangly youth who comes out to himself and later to his younger brother Nicky (Lea Coco), an understanding jock whom Dorian loves but resents in silence for hoarding their lunatic dad's affections. Dorian speaks only in barbs, but Bardwell seems to understand how this behavior stems from the boy's frustrations with his sexuality it's a cover for the raw, unadulterated honesty that eludes him. Something Bardwell also understands is the multi-staged process many gay men go through on their road to self-acceptance: keeping the door to the closet locked until they're safe and sound from the horrors of high school, the loss of their virginity, and the rapture and subsequent crushing disintegration of their first love. Ned Martel of the New York Times says that DORIAN BLUES "fits tidily into a genre of first-time films in which the main gay character comes of age and out of the closet." "Coming-out films are not uncommon but rare are the ones directed by straight dudes and cut from such an abnormal mold as Dorian Blues," opines Ed Gonzalez of Slant. Danial Adkison of the Village Voice assures us that Dorian Blues will "kindle empathy in those who've had to tread the family-drama-churned waters of small-town gaydom."

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One Week: November 4 - 10

Touch the Sound

Premiere (2004, 99 minutes,)

Official Site View Trailer IMDB Entry

"Call this a profile in courage," writes V. A. Musetto (The New York Post) of this documentary exploring the connections among sound, rhythm, time, and the body through the work of nearly deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie. Jack Matthews of the Daily News adds that the film is "a feast for the senses." Evelyn Glennie is a Grammy-winning classical percussionist whose solo work is unrivalled. She is also deaf. For Glennie, sound is palpable and rhythm is the basis of everything. Without vibration, there is nothing. From silence to music, sound is felt through every sense in our bodies. Director Thomas Riedelsheimer (Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time) maps a world of senses, of transcendent images and evocative sounds, following Evelyn and her remarkable story through California, New York, England, and her native Scotland. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times finds Touch the Sound a "potent and imaginative creative biography," while Stephen Holden of the New York Times holds that "this impressionistic documentary is a mystical exploration of the sensory world as experienced by a musician who lost most of her hearing as a teenager."

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One Week: November 11 - 17

ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS

Revival (1958, 88 minutes)

Official Site View Trailer IMDB Entry

So when did the French new wave begin? Was it as early as the film Cesar, as some critics have asserted? Or was it with neorealist films such as Rossellini's Rome: Open City? Or was the movement sparked more close to home, in the works of Renoir and Melville? Some would say that the French New Wave really began with this small nocturnal thriller by Louis Malle, variously also called Ascenseur pour l'échafaud, and Frantic. Rooted in the sort of film noir tales that subsequent New Wavers such as Godard and Truffaut embraced, ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS was also filmed candidly on the streets of Paris, featured that axiom of New Wave films Jeanne Moreau, and used a lush, erotic score by Miles Davis (American jazz being another New Wave emblem). Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times noted, "these 1950s French noirs abandon the formality of traditional crime films, the almost ritualistic obedience to formula, and show crazy stuff happening to people who seem to be making up their lives as they go along." David Denby of New York magazine focuses on "Moreau's nocturnal wanderings," made "unbearably poignant by an exquisite Miles Davis jazz score that became famous in its own right," while Stephen Hunter of the Washington Post emphasizes Paris as the film's star, noting that what turns ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS "fabulous, indeed mythical, is the presence of another entity: Paris at night in the '50s, to the tune of Miles Davis's score as realized in the dappled hues of Henri Decae's gorgeous poetic cinematography." We won't spoil a second of the plot of a film that Andy Klein of Los Angeles Citybeat calls "a little gem": come see for yourself.

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One Week: November 11 - 17

Winter Soldier

Premiere (1972, 96 minutes)

Official Site View Trailer IMDB Entry

Yes, it's a film from 1972, only now receiving its theatrical premiere. And the reason is simple. The Winterfilm Collective's documentary told the truth about war crimes in Vietnam. The sickening pattern of acts to which these soldiers attest was too much for an American media unwilling to face the truth: The United States was betraying its own principles in a war that was ostensibly about rescuing people from a vicious enemy. But the documentarians who made Winter Soldier didn't have to fly to Saigon for their footage. Instead, they drove to Detroit, where a young returning soldier named John Kerry and other members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War were organizing a truth commission for returning vets. The goal of the 1971 hearings was to tell the American public about the unpleasant realities on the ground in Vietnam, and to give the soldiers a way to heal their own guilt at harming civilians (or witnessing their slaughtering). "I didn't like being an animal," says one veteran. In graphic words, they describe horrendous acts. The hearings lasted three days. During last year's presidential election, Kerry's actions during Vietnam, the Detroit hearings, and the subsequent march on Washington, in which veterans threw medals onto the steps of the Capitol, were a source of endless controversy. Jonathan Curiel of the San Francisco Chronicle notes that Winter Soldier is "a rare time capsule of collective dissent. Bravery, too. It took strength for these once-proud military men to admit the wrongs they experienced in the name of the United States. Their visible anguish is a sobering reality check about the nature of war." Colin Covert of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune finds the film "a powerful document from a painful chapter in history," while for Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly finds it to be an "unprettied, unfiltered, un-Michael Moored yowl of pain and warning from ex-GIs that sears in an entirely new way when watched now, during an entirely new war that results in the same old death." "A Winter Soldier screening should be a voter registration requirement," advises Michael Atkinson of the Village Voice.

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One Week: November 18 - 24

THE DYING GAUL

Premiere (2005, 101 minutes)

Official Site IMDB Entry

Playwright Craig Lucas (Longtime Companion) provides an unusual peep into the politics, sexual and otherwise, of moviemaking in his directorial debut about a grief-stricken screenwriter (Peter Sarsgaard) who unknowingly enters a three-way relationship with a woman (Patricia Clarkson), herself a former screenwriter, and her film executive husband (Campbell Scott), to chilling results. Bob Westal of Film Threat finds Lucas's debut "impressive" and "visually surefooted." Internet reviewer Eric D. Snider finds that THE DYING GAUL has " a riveting final act." Stina Chyn of Film Threat adds that "what's especially intriguing about The Dying Gaul is the way it causes your sympathies to shift from character to character." The Oregonian's Shawn Levy reports, "it is beautifully made and acted."

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One Week: November 25 - December 1

THE PASSENGER

Director's Cut (1975, 126 minutes)

IMDB Entry

Like Stanley Kubrick, Michelangelo Antonioni is one of those directors whose films earn gravitas and importance over time: they always look more prophetic, accurate, and intelligent several years or decades down the road. The Passenger is one of those films. Deemed episodic and lightweight when it was first released, it is now called, by the likes of Don Druker in the Chicago Reader, "a masterpiece, one of Michelangelo Antonioni's finest works." The film concerns a TV journalist (Jack Nicholson) who trades one identity for another; the film also stars Maria Schneider as the woman who becomes his accomplice - and ultimately the moral center of his adopted world. The film was famous at the time of its release for a stunning long, slow take that begins above a village and ends inside a darkened room, but there are other striking images, such as one of Nicholson "flying" over Barcelona. In this new director's cut of THE PASSENGER (also known as Profession: Reporter), Antonioni rearranges things and adds some six minutes to the original release version. Don Druker of the Chicago Reader also notes that the film is "less a thriller (though the mood of mystery is pervasive) than a meditation on the problems of knowledge, action for its own sake, and the relationship of the artist to the work he brings into being." Penelope Gilliat in the New Yorker called it "august and delicate." "Vincent Canby in the New York Times called THE PASSENGER "dazzling probably Mr. Antonioni's most entertaining film."

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One Week: December 2 - 8

The Conformist

Revival (1970, 115 minutes)

IMDB Entry

Continuing on with its unofficial revival of 1970s Italian cinema, the Cinema 21 also offers Bernardo Bertolucci's moody masterpiece set in Fascist Italy. Based on a novel by Alberto Moravia, The Conformist recounts the tale of Marcello Clerici (Jean-Louis Trintignant, in what David Sterritt of the Christian Science Monitor calls "a legendary performance"), an aspiring writer and Fascist intellectual who must prove his mettle to his new masters by assassinating his old mentor. Lushly shot by Vittorio Storaro with an autumnal feel of browns and yellows, of leaves in the gutters and wind-swept cobblestones, The Conformist is a beautiful film about a terrible person. Few artists have tried to view evil from the inside - Sartre in The Wall, Georg Buchner in Woyzeck - but Bertolucci does so with a blend of surface beauty and moral integrity. Michael Atkinson of the Village Voice calls The Conformist "an eye-watering testimony to the erstwhile dash of international cinema," while Steven Rea of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes that "as striking as Bertolucci's classic looks, it's even more powerful in the storytelling." And here is a piece of trivia: the Paris address in the film given for Clerici's mentor is in reality the old Paris address of Bertolucci's own real life mentor, Jean-Luc Godard.

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Two Weeks: December 9 - 22 (plus various shows thru December 29

SARAH SILVERMAN: JESUS IS MAGIC

Premiere (2005, 72 minutes)

Official Site View Trailer IMDB Entry

"When God gives you AIDS (and God does give you AIDS, by the way) make LemonAIDS!" advises stand-up comic Sarah Silverman in her first feature film, a record of her one-woman show. Silverman was one of the standouts in the recent documentary The Aristocrats, but she is also a comic who treads a difficult line of humor and irony. In the tradition of Martin Mull, Andy Kaufman, Albert Brooks, and Steve Martin, her shtick is just as much a meta-level critique of comedy as it is downright funny. Like her "lemonAIDS" joke, Silverman's humor is meant to make you uncomfortable, make you think, and make you question what humor is in the first place, much like Kaufman's surreal public exercises in street theater. Directed by Liam Lynch (Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny), JESUS IS MAGIC comprises Silverman's performance before a live audience interwoven with stylish musical numbers and backstage intrigue. Bob Odenkirk, Brian Posehn and Silverman's comedian/actor sister, Laura Silverman, make appearances along with Silverman's band, The Silver Men, and in the film she takes on such pitch-black topics as September 11th, unwanted body hair, and the Holocaust, and spins them into decidedly un-politically correct comedic gold. The L. A. Weekly deems Silverman to be "hands down the funniest comedian in town," while Variety calls JESUS IS MAGIC "explosively funny, unnervingly shocking, and perversely adorable."

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