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Movies

February 14, 2013 12:00 AM

At their best, each year’s Oscar-nominated short films are a chance to see something new, or unusual, or unlikely. Short films can take different chances with structure, rely less heavily on traditional narrative or capture a moment rather than laying out a whole tale.

At their best, each year’s Oscar-nominated short films are a chance to see something new, or unusual, or unlikely. Short films can take different chances with structure, rely less heavily on traditional narrative or capture a moment rather than laying out a whole tale. But this year’s crop of live action shorts is a bit of a letdown in this regard: They tend toward the traditional, are predictably heart-wrenching or fall a little short in one aspect while succeeding in others. 

February 7, 2013 12:00 AM

It’s almost easier to talk about what director Michael Haneke (Cache, The White Ribbon) doesn’t do than what he does. He doesn’t hold the audience’s hand; musical cues don’t appear to direct your emotions and stories don’t neatly wind up to logical conclusions.

It’s almost easier to talk about what director Michael Haneke (Cache, The White Ribbon) doesn’t do than what he does. He doesn’t hold the audience’s hand; musical cues don’t appear to direct your emotions and stories don’t neatly wind up to logical conclusions. He doesn’t give you a handy backstory or motivation for his characters, but expects you to find it in their interactions and, notably, their homes. In interviews, he avoids questions about themes, preferring to leave interpretation to his audiences.

January 31, 2013 12:00 AM

Nearly every brief summary of Jacques Audiard’s Rust and Bone borders on the absurd, or at least sounds mawkishly sentimental.

Nearly every brief summary of Jacques Audiard’s Rust and Bone borders on the absurd, or at least sounds mawkishly sentimental: A young man, mostly unemployed and recently in charge of his five-year-old son, strikes up a relationship with a killer-whale trainer who is terribly injured in a freak accident. It sounds like a story that will veer into sentimental territory early, overflowing with reminders about the fragility and beauty of life.

January 24, 2013 12:00 AM

David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, now heavy under the weight of award-season expectations, is trying to be one (or more) of the following three things: 1. A romantic comedy; 2. A movie about mental illness, and 3. A peculiar send-up of one or both of these options.

David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, now heavy under the weight of award-season expectations, is trying to be one (or more) of the following three things: 1. A romantic comedy; 2. A movie about mental illness, and 3. A peculiar send-up of one or both of these options.

January 17, 2013 12:00 AM

If you’re hoping for a full, deep understanding of the founding and success of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill W. probably won’t be the film you’d like it to be. A personal, occasionally patchy documentary, Bill W. sticks close to its subject: Bill Wilson, one of the founders of AA.

If you’re hoping for a full, deep understanding of the founding and success of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill W. probably won’t be the film you’d like it to be. A personal, occasionally patchy documentary, Bill W. sticks close to its subject: Bill Wilson, one of the founders of AA.

January 10, 2013 12:00 AM

Within a minute of Zero Dark Thirty, I was in tears. Director Kathryn Bigelow doesn’t pull punches, and the film’s dark-screen open is no exception.

Within a minute of Zero Dark Thirty, I was in tears. Director Kathryn Bigelow doesn’t pull punches, and the film’s dark-screen open is no exception: It leaves the images to your imagination as the audio gives you scared, horrified, frantic voices. I assume these are re-creations of audio from 9/11. If they’re not, I don’t want to know. 

January 3, 2013 12:00 AM

Léos Carax’s baffling, magical Rorschach blot of a film, Holy Motors, is a magic mirror: It gives you what you want from it. If you think it’s funny, you’ll be amused; if you think it’s serious, you’ll be somber.

Léos Carax’s baffling, magical Rorschach blot of a film, Holy Motors, is a magic mirror: It gives you what you want from it. If you think it’s funny, you’ll be amused; if you think it’s serious, you’ll be somber.

December 27, 2012 12:00 AM

2013 will be the year of … more comic book-based films, more action flicks and more zombie apocalypse movies, not to mention sequels, more sequels and reboots: Man of Steel (another Superman reboot), The Hunger Games.

2013 will be the year of … more comic book-based films, more action flicks and more zombie apocalypse movies, not to mention sequels, more sequels and reboots: Man of Steel (another Superman reboot), The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (the second film of the trilogy), Jack Ryan (a second reboot of the Tom Clancy franchise), A Good Day to Die Hard (Bruce Willis’ fifth time as Mr. McClane), World War Z (Brad Pitt fights zombies), Pacific Rim (robots vs.

December 20, 2012 12:00 AM

The Hobbit is not a particularly large book. It’s a friendly size, a book that a kid can read happily, without tripping over the endless pages of description — and walking — that fill The Fellowship of the Ring. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is not the same size.

The Hobbit is not a particularly large book. It’s a friendly size, a book that a kid can read happily, without tripping over the endless pages of description — and walking — that fill The Fellowship of the Ring. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is not the same size. The first film in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy pulls from Tolkien’s seemingly endless trove of Middle-Earth lore, filling out An Unexpected Journey until it’s more of a war story than the sprightly adventure on which it’s based. 

December 13, 2012 12:00 AM

Taylor Guterson’s quietly likable debut feature, Old Goats, is a very Northwestern film — damp, relaxed, full of the mellow charms of its Bainbridge Island setting and featuring more cups of coffee than you can count.

Taylor Guterson’s quietly likable debut feature, Old Goats, is a very Northwestern film — damp, relaxed, full of the mellow charms of its Bainbridge Island setting and featuring more cups of coffee than you can count. The film showcases three old goats, each wrestling with age in a specific way: Bob (Bob Burkholder), who’s just written a memoir detailing his colorful life and plentiful sexual conquests, can hardly hold still; he’s constantly asking friends for a ride or offering unsolicited advice on their futures.

December 6, 2012 12:00 AM

The first half hour of Atonement director Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina is such a joy to watch, I began to doubt my expectations of the story.

The first half hour of Atonement director Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina is such a joy to watch, I began to doubt my expectations of the story. This has a tragic ending, doesn’t it? Terrible things are going to happen? For that matter, unfortunate things are happening in the first act, but the clever way they’ve been pieced together is a magical distraction, and appropriately so.

November 28, 2012 10:00 PM

Lincoln, contrary to what its name implies, is not a defining portrait of a man, though Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance as Abraham Lincoln is one of his defining roles.

Lincoln, contrary to what its name implies, is not a defining portrait of a man, though Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance as Abraham Lincoln is one of his defining roles. Stooped, quiet, introverted, exhausted, brilliant and prone to making his point via stories, Day-Lewis’ Lincoln is the calm center to a complex and flawed film about the 16th president — and about the role of politics in America’s terrible relationship with race.

November 21, 2012 10:00 PM

The Sessions, a candid, gentle film about a paralyzed man’s quest to have sex, walks a tricky, balanced, grave and funny path that’s all its own.

The Sessions, a candid, gentle film about a paralyzed man’s quest to have sex, walks a tricky, balanced, grave and funny path that’s all its own. Struck by polio at a young age, Mark O’Brien (John Hawkes) lives mostly in an iron lung; he can get out for a few hours at a time, his assistant pushing him on a gurney. Three assistants are key in the film: Amanda (Annika Marks), a pretty young woman with whom Mark falls in love; Rod (Hawkes’ fellow Deadwood alum W.

November 7, 2012 10:00 PM

If you look at Richard Gere’s body of work, it appears he should be on movie screens constantly.

If you look at Richard Gere’s body of work, it appears he should be on movie screens constantly. A film or two every year, an I’m Not There slipped in between every couple of Unfaithfuls. But Gere still gives the impression, somehow, of popping up every so often, not remaining constantly visible, not sustaining a movie star presence. And when was the last time Gere actually impressed you?

October 31, 2012 10:00 PM

Occupied Cascadia, they say, is “the first feature-length film to explore the Cascadian bioregional autonomist movement.” If you are not familiar with that movement, or always wanted to know what that blue and green flag with the Doug fir on it was about, then pick up a copy of the 1975 utopian novel Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach, and you’ll start to get an idea.

The Cascadia Bioregion, according to Bend-based independent filmmakers Mel Sweet and Devin Hess, “is defined by geomorphology, including all watersheds that flow west from the continental divide through the rainforests of the West Coast.” It extends from the southeast Alaska Panhandle south into northern California and as far east as Missoula, Mont.

October 31, 2012 10:00 PM

Four years ago, this country was gearing up to elect Team Obama-Biden or Team McCain-Palin. Four years ago there were flag pins, Bill Ayers and lipsticked pigs instead of Big Bird, Bain and bayonets.

Four years ago, this country was gearing up to elect Team Obama-Biden or Team McCain-Palin. Four years ago there were flag pins, Bill Ayers and lipsticked pigs instead of Big Bird, Bain and bayonets. Four years ago, Mitt Romney was a blip on the election trail and the U.S. was toppling into one of the largest economic downturns in history. And four years ago, the David Minor Theater (DMT) opened at 5th and Pearl St., bringing film and libations to Eugene. Friday, Nov. 2, the theater will host a “Re-election Party” to mark the conclusion of that crucial first term.

October 24, 2012 10:00 PM

Like socialism, the words labor and union, have become dirty in today’s political climate. But this wasn’t always so.

Like socialism, the words labor and union, have become dirty in today’s political climate. But this wasn’t always so. These words have undergone a slow, steady and deliberate connotation reassignment, now signifying fascism, communism, redistribution of wealth and anti-democratic and anti-competitive practices, and perhaps that’s why anyone born after 1980 is probably not familiar with the Reuther family like they are with the Kennedys.

October 17, 2012 10:00 PM

If you’re somewhere in your 30s and grew up with a television, Wayne White’s work probably slipped into your young mind somewhere.

If you’re somewhere in your 30s and grew up with a television, Wayne White’s work probably slipped into your young mind somewhere. As a young artist, White landed a job on Pee-wee’s Playhouse, where he designed (and voiced) some of the show’s iconic characters. His work turned up in the music videos for Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight” and Peter Gabriel’s “Big Time,” and he worked on a host of other children’s shows.

October 10, 2012 10:00 PM

If you’ve been thinking that maybe Tim Burton has slipped a little, you’re hardly alone. Frankenweenie, then, is a kind of comeback, and one that goes straight to Burton’s roots.

If you’ve been thinking that maybe Tim Burton has slipped a little, you’re hardly alone. This spring’s Dark Shadows came and went, hardly a blip on the radar screen of pop culture, and 2010’s Alice in Wonderland was such a murky muddle that even Johnny Depp and a plethora of talented actresses couldn’t turn it into something watchable.

October 10, 2012 10:00 PM

2012 is flying by, people. The end is nigh.

2012 is flying by, people. The end is nigh, supposedly, on Dec. 21, and so this month, the University of Oregon Folklore program began a series of film screenings entitled “Apocalypse Now ... and Then” that will run weekly through Wednesday, Nov. 21. Take a wild crack at what the films are about — yep, you guessed it: the end of the freaking world. The series includes such films as Children of Men (10-24), The Omega Man (11-7), Night of the Comet (11-21) and other such apocalyptic works.

October 3, 2012 10:00 PM

Time-travel stories are always tricky. As a viewer, you have to accept paradoxes and twisting strands of plot.

Time-travel stories are always tricky. As a viewer, you have to accept paradoxes and twisting strands of plot, and writer-director Rian Johnson’s Looper — the fall film I looked forward to the way some people anticipated The Master — will not hold your hand on this matter. The explanation is quick and to the point: In the future, time travel will be invented, then outlawed, then used by outlaws. The future mob hires loopers, men (and only men, apparently) who assassinate victims who have been sent back in time to be killed.

September 26, 2012 10:00 PM

Samsara, according to the film’s website, is a Sanskrit word meaning “the ever turning wheel of life.” The film, which has taken this word for its title, has no dialogue, no narrative; it consists of a series of images the filmmakers describe as a “nonverbal, guided meditation.” Does that excite you or make you want to roll your eyes?

Samsara, according to the film’s website, is a Sanskrit word meaning “the ever turning wheel of life.” The film, which has taken this word for its title, has no dialogue, no narrative; it consists of a series of images the filmmakers describe as a “nonverbal, guided meditation.” 

September 19, 2012 10:00 PM

Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev’s film keeps shifting, languidly and elegantly, as it runs its course. It’s a thriller of sorts, but quietly so; what makes it nerve-wracking is in large part what you bring to it as a viewer.

Elena begins with such a long, slowly shifting shot that the image — a bare tree branch, a black bird, an apartment balcony — becomes ominous. The branch blurs into the apartment, which comes into focus as a large, sterile, tasteful place, spacious and passionless, and clearly expensive.

September 12, 2012 10:00 PM

Mike Birbiglia’s life story is determined to come to you in all forms. In 2010, the comedian’s book Sleepwalk with Me and Other Painfully True Stories — a series of stories, half painful and half funny, about the comedian’s life, career and bouts with sleepwalking — was released.

Mike Birbiglia’s life story is determined to come to you in all forms. In 2010, the comedian’s book Sleepwalk with Me and Other Painfully True Stories — a series of stories, half painful and half funny, about the comedian’s life, career and bouts with sleepwalking — was released.