Friday, April 20, 2012


Here's a list of films opening in PDX worth mentioning, although I don't have the time to write at length about them.  Plenty of stuff out there to enjoy over the weekend:

The Laurelhurst Theater is continuing their BAM (Beer and Movie) film festival this week with Sam Peckinpah's 1972 convicts-on-the-run, flick The Getaway, starring Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw.

Cinema 21 is heading into their final week of showing the Indonesian action hit The Raid: Redemption.  On Saturday the 21st, they'll be hosting a single screening of the new documentary about the politics of vaccinations, The Greater Good, at 4pm.

The 20th Portland Jewish Film Festival continues this weekend at the NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.  On Friday and Saturday, the NWFC hosts The Rabbi's Cat, an animated feature concerning a feline who gains the power of speech.  My Architect, the quite good documentary from 2003, about Louis Kahn plays on Sunday at 4pm.

Over at PSU's 5th Avenue Cinema, Wong Kar Wai's 1997 film Happy Together will light up the screen over the weekend.

And the Clinton Street Theater's got John Walker's A Drummer's Dream through next Thursday.

Reviews and posts for films that are opening today (or playing somewhere in town this week):
Marley: This One's for the Fans
Grindhouse Film Festival presents King Kong vs. Godzilla
The Trouble with Bliss: Sad & Quirky Observations on a Static Life
The Salt of Life (review from PIFF--it opens at Living Room Theaters today)
The Kid with a Bike: Return of the Dardenne Brothers
Jiro Dreams of Sushi: Wherein the Daily Grind Lasts a Lifetime

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There's no kind way of getting around the fact that, in following the non-adventures of its flat and listless protagonist, The Trouble with Bliss ends up being nothing more than a flat and listless viewing experience, lightly peppered here and there with a few promising moments. 

Morris Bliss (Michael C. Hall) is in his mid-thirties.  He's yet to leave the nest, still living at home with his father (Peter Fonda).  And, as the film opens, he's just begun an affair with a teenager named Stephanie (Brie Larson), who happens to be the daughter of a guy called "Jetski" (Brad William Henke), an old friend from high school.

As lives go, Morris' is a bit of a nonstarter.  He's got a map in his bedroom with push-pins marking all the places he hopes to visit one day.  He prefers taking the handouts his father begrudgingly gives him to looking for work; Fonda's pitch-perfect here and the scenes between him and Hall hint at a complexity that the film fails to deliver in the end. 

There's really nothing that Morris seems all that interested in chasing.   Even the women (yeah, that's Lucy Liu in the mix, as a flirtatious neighbor) he becomes involved with don't motivate him as much as inexplicably fall in his lap.  In the world presented here, the ladies apparently can't resist the downbeat and helpless man-child type.

All of which would be fine if there was at least some urgency or momentum built into the story.  But Michael Knowles and Douglas Light's screenplay, based on Light's novel East Fifth Bliss, seems more interested in painting its characters into corners early in the film, defining them before sealing them forever in amber; these are people incapable of evolution. 

There's an abundance of films out there that deal with issues of arrested development, some are even quite good (Heavy or Trees Lounge, for instance).  The Trouble with Bliss just doesn't know what to do with its sad and quirky observations on a static life.

The Trouble with Bliss starts its run at the Hollywood Theatre on Friday, April 20th.  More info here.

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