Duck Duck Book

42 – northwest passage
02.7.2007, 12:03 am
Filed under: art & entertainment, events, films

Northwest passage : the birth of Portland’s DIY culture [film event] / directed by Mike Lastra.
24th Reel Music Film Festival, Northwest Film Center.

On Thursday, February 15th, Cinema 21 (616 NW 21st Ave., 503.223.4515) will host two showings of the very last installment in this year’s Reel Music Film Festival, Northwest Passage. The film chronicles our local punk/alternative music scene in the late 1970s and early 1980s, a welcome and overdue subject indeed.

More substantive comment can be found over at Portland Public Art.


41 – portland exposé
01.17.2007, 4:50 pm
Filed under: fiction, films

Portland exposé, in Forgotten noir. Vol. 1, Portland exposé ; They were so young [videorecording] : Kit Parker double features / VCI Entertainment.
[S.l.] : Kit Parker Films : Distributed by VCI Entertainment, [2006]
[MCL call number: DVD Drama FORGOTTE1; nine copies, two holds]

Portland, Oregon, City of Roses, often lauded as one of the nations most livable cities, used to be a kind of Sodom, a nest of crime and vice. Gambling, prostitution rings, press-ganging, protection rackets, corrupt union officials, and machine politics all feature boldly in the city’s past (see, for example, Portland Confidential by Phil Stanford, Portland, Or. : WestWinds Press, c2004). Reforms of the early 20th century are supposed to have done away with the bulk of these ill pursuits and criminal arrangements, but Portland Exposé, a noir-ish B movie filmed on location, aims to show that in 1957, all was not well in the Rose City.

This mediocre drama chronicles the arrival of an organized crime ring, and how their efforts to take over and expand the city’s gambling, liquor distribution, and other small- to medium-time criminal activities affect a family who have just set up business operating a roadside bar and grill on the outskirts of town. Corrupt Teamsters are in league with the evil Johnny-come-lately mobsters, and our upstanding, all-American bar-owner hero stands up to them all with the help of an ousted crime boss, a couple of steadfast newspapermen, a police captain, and an honest union official.

The plot is thin, but the acting and writing are passable, and the film is kind of fascinating just for the background of 50s era Portland infrastructure — throughout the picture, there are several nice wide shots of the city showing downtown and the riverfront, and local landmarks are featured regularly. Stumptown Confidential has some nice screen shots showing various more-or-less recognizable settings in the film, including scenes of one of our warehouse districts, “Portland Towers”, a shot of our hero taking a payoff from a bar owner with the Steel Bridge in the background, and Union Station inside and out. If you have an hour to kill, and you’re wondering how the good citizens of Bridgetown defeated those outside agitators with guts, ingenuity, and collective action, this is the film for you!

addendum to number 36 – portland indy
08.8.2006, 10:23 am
Filed under: events, films

Portland Indy Animation Festival 2006 [film event].

Local independent animated films will show at the Hollywood Theatre this Friday and Saturday (11-12 August) at 7.20 and 9.20 p.m., $5 per show. I can’t say much more than that, since I don’t know a speck about the films, their directors, or the history of this possibly annual festival, but it sure sounds great!

35 – brick
07.17.2006, 2:51 pm
Filed under: events, films

Brick [film] / Bergman Lustig Productions ; written and directed by Rian Johnson.
Universal City, CA : Focus Features, 2005.
[Multnomah County Library does not have this film, but for you Portlanders, it is currently playing at the Laurelhurst and St. John’s Pub Theaters]

Brick is a murder mystery simultaneously in the old school and in the dark underbelly of modern-day America; it’s like film noir goes to high school. Brendan, the protagonist and detective, is sort of like an 11th grade Philip Marlowe — he definitely has a plan of action to get from the dead body to an understanding of what went down and how it fits into everything else, but he plays his cards close to his chest (even if you’re on the other side of the film’s fourth wall), is willing to get the shit kicked out of him any time it’s a shortcut to information, and he is absolutely rock solid about who’s side he is on.

To say that Brick is like a high school noir makes it sound like it must be completely ironic, if only to avoid being ridiculous. But Brick is not ironic, on the whole, and it damned sure isn’t ridiculous. The same story could have been written, directed, designed, or acted differently to make it tongue-in-cheek, but the electricity of the film as it has been made is largely that it is straight up, no chaser.

See Brick while it’s still on the large screen. You will probably need a stiff drink, a massage, or a hot bath afterwards from 90 minutes of plot tension, obscure teenager slang, and unrelenting workaday violence and anguish, but I do not think the movie would be as, well, as big, on the smaller screen. And if nothing else, noir should be big. It hurts more that way.

N.b.: Despite the fact that I recommend you see Brick in a theater, it has been released on dvd:

Brick / by Rian Johnson; Joseph Gordon-Levitt; Lukas Haas; Emilie De Ravin; Focus Features.; Universal Pictures.
Universal City, CA : Focus Features : Distributed by Universal Pictures, 2006.

[thanks, Kristian]

23 – small city big hip hop
08.16.2005, 12:01 am
Filed under: events, films

Small city big hip hop [film] / Opio Sokoni.
Opio Media LLC, [2005].
Hollywood Theatre.

A documentary about hip hop in the Rose City debuts at our own Hollywood Theatre at 4122 NE Sandy Blvd. this Saturday, August 20 at 7:00 p.m. The film’s press release promises, “Radio talkshow host and Hip Hop enthusiast Opio Sokoni intelligently documents the different elements of Hip Hop in his first independent film. . . [the film] also explores social issues, a generation gap and some of this city’s dirtiest realities.”

Clearly I can’t make any representations about this film, as I have not yet had an opportunity to see it, but the it’s about time for the subject matter and free is a very good price.

10 – fifteenth annual . . . african films
01.31.2005, 12:01 am
Filed under: events, films

The fifteenth annual Cascade festival of African films : in celebration of Black History Month films].
[Portland Community College], 20 January 2005.

Just like it sounds, films from Africa — many that you’ll never have a chance to see otherwise, either on the big screen or the little one. The festival website includes descriptions of each movie, as well as information on lectures and appearances by directors.

Films are showing at several locations (mostly in North and Northeast Portland) February 3 through March 5, and they’re all free.

7 – imagining home
01.10.2005, 12:01 am
Filed under: events, films

Imagining home : stories of Columbia Villa [film] / Sue Arbuthnot and Richard Wilhelm.
Hollywood Theatre.

The Hollywood Theatre, our local non-profit film foundation & venue, is hosting the world premiere (free admission!!) of this local film. From the webpage:

“The film examines poverty, race and class through the lens of a historic, maligned, and cherished public housing neighborhood in Portland, Oregon, undergoing complete transformation. Are equitable and inclusive affordable housing policies critical to the health and sustainability of our larger communities?”

Showing Thursday, January 13 at 7pm, Saturday, January 15 at 1pm, and Sunday, January 16 at 1pm at The Hollywood Theatre at 4122 NE Sandy Blvd. in Portland. Admission is free.