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Cold War Calamity
Emergency grips nuclear sub.
BY LOIS WADSWORTH

K-19 THE WIDOWMAKER: Produced and directed by Kathryn Bigelow. Written by Christopher Kyle, based on a story by Louis Nowra. Produced by Joni Sighvatsson, Christine Whitaker, Edward S. Feldman. Executive producers, Harrison Ford, Nigel Sinclair, Moritz Borman, Guy East. Cinematography, Jeff Cronenweth. Production design, Karl Juliusson, Michael Novotny. Editor, Walter Murch. Costumes, Marit Allen. Composer, Klaus Badelt. Executive music producer, Joel Sill. Sound supervisor, Pat Jackson. Starring Liam Neeson and Harrison Ford, with Peter Sarsgaard, Christian Camago. Paramount Pictures, 2002. PG-13. 138 minutes.

Being submerged in the untested, prototype K-class Russian nuclear submarine under the Arctic Ocean or afloat at the North Pole or waiting for help off the coast of North America, crippled and contaminated, is no fun. K-19's 138 minute run under the helm of director Kathryn Bigelow only slows down for formal intervals, such as the sub's launching. And when the champagne bottle doesn't break, the crew says there's a curse on the ship. The last truly joyous moment in the film is sailors frolicking on the ice at the pole and posing for their portrait.

CAPTAIN ALEXI VOSTRIKOV (HARRISON FORD) AND EXECUTIVE OFFICER MIKHAIL POLENIN (LIAM NEESON) ONBOARD THE K-19 NUCLEAR SUBMARINE.

That said, K-19 is an important contribution to the submarine drama genre, which includes the superb Das Boot, Wolfgang Petersen's 1981 realistic treatment of life aboard a WWII German U-boat, and The Hunt for Red October, John McTiernan's 1990 Cold War defection classic based on Tom Clancy's bestseller. K-19 is "inspired" by actual events, as the credits admit, but if you've watched the History Channel's version of events, you know how much has been left out, changed or cleaned up for mass consumption, especially scenes of radiation-poisoned sailors. Perhaps American audiences can't handle too much reality in this gung-ho period. At any rate, the fate of the first nuclear ballistic missile submarine the Russians put into service is a cautionary tale.

The ship's two captains experience a combative personality clash. Captain Alexi Vostrikov (Harrison Ford) was put in place by the political and intelligence arm of the Soviet state, when former captain, now Executive Officer, Mikhail Polenin (Liam Neeson) fought the establishment over safety issues. Each is a dedicated officer, but the men love Polenin, who sees his role as that of a kind father, while the stern Vostrikov drives them and the ship too hard. Despite serious differences, however, each man realizes the grave danger their ship and men are in when one of the nuclear reactors fails, and a meltdown begins. Now everyone must do his duty, because that is the only way catastrophe can be averted. And that calls for a kind of courage and selflessness most of us are never required to show.

In the Cold War climate of 1961, what began as a test of "mutually assured destruction" could easily slip into becoming the opening salvo of World War III. Although Armageddon was averted, not even the families of the men involved knew what happened to their loved ones for 30 years. The men were not allowed to talk about it, and only after the breakup of the Soviet Union were the officers and sailors of the boat recognized for their sacrifice and dedication.

Ford and Neeson carry their roles with grace and sobriety, but Neeson has the more human part to play as the advocate for the men's safety, while Ford's character comes to that position only after much deliberation. Both show the terrible toll that making life-and-death decisions takes from a man. Because the traditional submarine picture tells an all-male story, no female presence lightens its tension. Interestingly, Neeson's paternal feelings for the men is the movie's only softness, although his character exhibits no feminine characteristics. Likewise, when the untested nuclear engineer, Reactor Officer Vaduz Radtchenko (Peter Sarsgaard), is overcome by fear, he also tones down the film's hardy masculinity a notch or two.

In addition to Bigelow's terrific direction, the film owes its stark beauty to cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth (Fight Club, The Game) and its lucidity and pacing to editor Walter Murch (Apocalypse Now Redux), the best editor still working in film. K-19 is now playing at Cinemark and Cinema World. Recommended.

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Cambodia's Shame
Good people, bad people.
BY LOIS WADSWORTH

BUTTERFLY MAN: Produced, directed and co-written by Marlin Darrah. Co-written by Candy Davis. Executive producers, Mika Sunago, Skye Fitzgerald. Assoc. producers, Jeff Blenkarn, Sanford Friedman. Music, Steven Chesne. Cinematography, Rick Cullis. Editors, Marlin Darrah, Jerry Pratt. Production design and art direction, Anna Gadsby. Costumes, Ciara Duncan. Starring McGeorge Robinson, Steve Boss, Constance Frenzen, Linda Shing and Rob Stockton. Living Dangerously Films, 2002. NR. 100 minutes.

Marlin Darrah grew up in Eugene and lived here until 1976, when he began making running films and shooting for Runner's World. Then he graduated to travel/adventure films set anywhere "from the Amazon to Zanzibar," as he puts it. "Everywhere, I saw American culture grafted onto indigenous culture," he said in a recent interview. "But I love Southeast Asia and these gentle, tropical people with Buddhist backgrounds."

So after many years in nonfiction filmmaking, Darrah traveled to Cambodia in January 2000 to look for locations to shoot his first feature film, Butterfly Man. They shot 120 scenes in 28 days — some four to five scenes a day — in different locations in the capital city of Phnom Penh and in the ancient Buddhist temple ruins at Angkor Wat. They shot without permits, because the government is not really functional. "It's a guerrilla movie," Darrah said. "Hit and run."

The film has its Oregon premiere at 8 pm July 26 in the Baker Downtown Building (the former Register-Guard building) at 10th and High. The show is open to the public, and Darrah will be present for Q&A after the film, followed by a reception. Tickets are $4.

FILMMAKER MARLIN DARRAH.

In Cambodia, foreign men who flit from prostitute to prostitute are known as "butterfly men," and American expatriate Thomas McIntyre (McGeorge Robinson) used to be one. But now he lives with a Cambodian single mom, Teeda (Linda Shing), and her shy preteen daughter, Ani, in a more stable environment. Teedy works in a factory, and Ani sells the watercolors Thomas paints. But like many men whose adolescence is artificially prolonged, Thomas isn't ready to commit to Teedy. In part his resistance comes from still thinking about Crystal (Constance Frenzen), the girlfriend who planned to join him in Cambodia but didn't.

This cautionary tale about the dangers of Cambodia as a lawless mecca for prostitution and cheap drugs really starts cooking when Crystal shows up in Phnom Penh married to Thomas's college friend, Cliff Townsend (Rob Stockton). Cliff wants to see the sights after midnight, which means he wants to go to the brothels where girls as young as 10 are available for hire, without Crysatl.

Meanwhile, an expat friend of Thomas's named Marty Travers comes to Thomas, desperately needing money to pay off debts. When Cliff offers Thomas $5,000 to be his tour guide through the "massage hotels," Marty pressures Thomas to accept and help him out of his hole. Lurking everywhere are utterly indifferent, armed men, who will kill for a few dollars.

The film includes some documentary footage shot entirely inside Cambodian brothels, which Darrah says are worse than Thailand's notorious ones. "For $5 you can have any girl, any age," he said, "and all these girls [in the brothel] are working girls." Men will come up to tourists on the street, he said, and offer to give them a tour; then they'll offer them a girl, often a relative. "It's a frontier, nearly lawless, where justice is for hire," Darrah said. He devoted two year to making this "heartfelt work."

Cambodia's many problems arise from the military anarchy of the Khmer Rouge, who created the country's killing fields between 1975-1979. "They would kill anyone wearing glasses," Darrah said. Since then, a renegade spirit of "get what you can for today" has ruled. There's been no formal education since 1979. Cross-cultural misunderstandings come up for Americans who want to see the real Cambodia. "We want authenticity," Darrah said, "while they want gadgets." Poverty hits women hard, and many become prostitutes to send money home to their families in the country.

The goodness of the ordinary people of Cambodia and its Buddhist cultural roots show in Butterfly Man, particularly through the character of Teedy, the heart of the film. The movie's pivotal scene occurs when Thomas returns home feeling degraded after taking Cliff to brothels. He comes into his room to find both Teedy and Crystal asleep in his bed. Thomas may still be uncertain about what he wants and who he wants to be with, but this image forces him to come to terms with his desires and grow up.

Well worth your time, Butterfly Kiss provides a great opportunity to see truly independent filmmaking at its best.

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OPENING OR RETURNING:

Films open the Friday following date of EW publication unless otherwise noted. See archived reviews at www.eugeneweekly.com.

Austin Powers in Goldmember: If the third time is charmed, here is Mike Myers, back in multiple roles as Austin Powers. Michael Caine plays his secret-agent dad and Beyoncé Knowles is Foxxy Cleopatra. Directed by Jay Roach. PG-13. Cinema World. Cinemark. Starts Wednesday.

Bad Company: The unlikely duo of Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock in a spy action/comedy. Directed by Joel Schumacher, it also stars Peter Stormare and Kerry Washington. PG-13. Movies 12.

Butterfly Man: Formerly of Eugene, filmmaker Marlin Darrah gives his first feature film its Oregon premiere at 8 pm on 07/26 in the Baker Downtown Building (former R-G building), 10th and High. Q&A, reception follow. $4. See review this issue..

Country Bears, The: An 11-year old bear decides to reunite his favorite bear rock ban for a benefit concert. Musical performances or appearances by Don Henley, John Hiatt, Elton John, Queen Latifah, Willie Nelson,. Bonnie Raitt and Brian Setzer. G. Cinemark. Cinema World.

Jwanna Mann: Miguel Nunez stars in this cross-dressing, romantic, basketball comedy, with Vivica A. Fox, Kevin Pollak, Kim Wayans and Lil' Kim. Directed by Jesse Vaughan. PG-13. Movies 12.

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron: Animated Western adventure with the voices of Matt Damon, James Cromwell and Daniel Studi is an action picture, not a comedy. Co-directed by Kelly Asbury and Lorna Cook. G. Movies 12.

Waco: The Rules of Engagement: Director William Gazecki's 1997 documentary on the FBI siege of the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, "maintains the detached, scholarly tone of a courtroom inquiry," according to The New York Times review. It also notes that the final assault on the Davidians and the resulting fire "are as horrifying as newsreels of war-torn Beirut." At 9:15 on 07/28 at Cosmic Pizza, 1433 Willamette. Free.

 

CONTINUING:
About a Boy: Nick Hornby's popular British novel about a rich London rake (Hugh Grant) who invents an imaginary son to meet women who are single parents. But instead he finds a troubled boy (Nicholas Hoult), who teaches him to grow up. Directed by Chris and Paul Weltz, it also stars Toni Collette, Rachel Weisz. Highest recommendations. PG-13. Movies 12. Online archives.

Bourne Identity, The: Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Chris Cooper, Clive Owen and Brian Cox star in Doug Liman's character-based spy thriller based on Robert Ludlum's best seller. A man with amnesia (Matt Damon) sets out to discover who he is and why everyone wants to kill him, and along the way he discovers love (Franka Potente). A subtle skewing of the genre, it's highly recommended. PG-13. Cinemark 17. Online archives.

Changing Lanes: Starring Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson as, two men who meet in a minor car accident and set out to destroy each other's lives. Directed by Roger Mitchell and produced by Scott Rudin. R. Movies 12.

Crocodile Hunter, Collision Course: In this comedy of errors, undercover CIA agents suspect Steve and Terri Irwin of information theft and go to Australia to prove it. PG. Cinemark.

Eight Legged Freaks: Stars David Arquette, Scarlett Johansson and others in this campy sci-fi movie about really big, poisonous, mutating spiders. "Let the squashing begin!" PG-13. Cinema World Cinemark.

Enough: Jennifer Lopez tries to get away from her abusive husband, played by Billy Campbell ("Once and Again"), in Michael Apted's drama. Also, Juliette Lewis, Noah Wyle. PG-13. Movies 12.

Halloween Resurrection: For the seventh time already, this sucker still isn't really dead. At age 50, he can still terrorize Busta Rhymes, Jamie Lee Curtis and lots of screaming teens. R. Cinema World.

Ice Age: Chris Wedge directs the voices of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, and Goran Vizjnic in this digitally animated story of prehistoric creatures trying to save a human child. G. Movies 12.

Importance of Being Earnest, The: Romantic farce by Oscar Wilde brought to the screen by Oliver Parker stars Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon, Judi Dench, Frances O'Connor, Tom Wilkinson and Anna Massey. Gorgeous and very funny. Recommended for your summertime pleasure. PG. Bijou. Online archives.

K-19: The Widowmaker: Based on a true story about a Cold War Russian nuclear submarine that has a near-meltdown, the film shows the courage of the sailors and their officers to stave off what would have been an international nuclear disaster. Stars Harrison Ford, Liam Neeson and Peter Sarsgaard. PG-13. Cinemark. Cinema World. See review this issue.

Like Mike: Lil Bow Wow plays an orphan who dreams of playing pro basketball. When he finds a pair of magic sneakers, he makes the team. Also stars Morris Chestnut, Jonathan Lipnicki, Crispin Glover and Eugene Levy. PG. Movies 12.

Lilo and Stitch: Animated Disney comedy about Lilo, a lonely Hawaiian girl, and her small, ugly dog named Stitch. The dog is an alien experiment that's crashed to earth. Six by Elvis on the soundtrack. PG. Cinema World. Cinemark.

Lord of the Rings, The: The Fellowship of the Ring: The first book in J. R. R. Tolkien's literary trilogy, directed by Peter Jackson stars Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Liv Tyler, Sean Astin, Christopher Lee. Academy Award winner for cinematography, makeup, and visual effects. Highest recommendations. PG-13. Movies 12. Online archives.

Men in Black 2: Jay (Will Smith) drags a reluctant Kay (Tommy Lee Jones) back into the agency with the mission of "Protecting the earth from the scum of the universe." Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, it also stars Lara Flynn Boyle as Serleena, an alien masquerading as a Victoria's Secret model. With Rosario Dawson, Johnny Knoxville, Tony Shalhoub and Rip Torn. PG-13. Cinemark. Cinema World. Online archives.

Minority Report: Steven Spielberg directs Tom Cruise in this sci-fi where killers are arrested and convicted before they commit murder. In 2054, Cruise heads the Pre-Crime unit until he's accused of the murder of a man he hasn't yet met. Based on a short story by the genre's master, Philip K. Dick. One of Spielberg and Cruise's best. Highest recommendations. PG-13. Cinemark. Online archives.

Mr. Deeds: Adam Sandler plays an ordinary guy who inherits $40 billion in this remake of Frank Capra's 1936 comedy, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. Also stars Winona Ryder, Peter Gallagher, Steve Buscemi, Jared Harris and John Turturro. PG-13. Cinemark.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding: Based on Nia Vardalos's one-woman stage show, it's about the 30-year old, unmarried daughter (Vardalos) in an engaging, passionate but demanding Greek family in New York. She meets the man she wants to marry (John Corbett), and he isn't Greek. Yikes! Another humorous reminder that weddings are also a family and community affair, this sweet romantic comedy entertains. Recommended. PG. Bijou. Online archives.

New Guy, The: DJ Qualls plays high school senior who has a chance to wipe the slate clean and reinvent himself. Comedy directed by Ed Decter also stars Eliza Dushku, Zooey Deschanel, Lyle Lovett and Eddie Griffin. PG-13. Movies 12.

Panic Room: David Fincher directs Jodie Foster, Forrest Whitaker and Dwight Yoakam in this creepy thriller about a woman and her child, who are stuck in a room in their own home. R. Movies 12.

Reign of Fire: After a slumbering fire-breathing critter wakes up, all hell breaks loose, and the world descends into Medieval times. Matthew McConaughey comes as savior, Christian Bale is fire chief. Rob Bowman directs. Violent. PG-13. Cinemark. Cinema World.

Road to Perdition: Sam Mendes (American Beauty) directs this fathers-and-sons drama set in Chicago during the Depression. It stars Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Tyler Hoechlin, with Jude Law, Daniel Craig, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Stanley Tucci and Liam Aiken. R. Cinema World. Online archives.

Rookie, The: Dennis Quaid stars as baseball coach who makes a deal with his team and ends up trying out for a minor league contract. Also with Rachel Griffiths. Received good reviews. G. Movies 12.

Star Wars: Attack of the Clones: George Lucas' second of three Star Wars' prequels comes to the screen with Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor, Ian McDiarmid and Samuel Jackson doing all the heavy lifting. PG. Cinemark. Online archives.

Stuart Little 2: Stuart goes to school now, and he has big brother George and baby sister Martha to play with. But a mysterious bird named Margalo involves everyone in an adventure. Voices of Michael J. Fox, Melanie Griffith, Nathan Lane, Geena Davis and more. PG. Cinema World. Cinemark.

Undercover Brother: Action comedy directed by Malcolm D. Lee and written by John Ridley stars Eddie Griffin, who adopts the garb of blaxploitation era private detectives to go undercover. PG-13. Movies 12.

Windtalkers: Nicolas Cage and Adam Beach star in director John Woo's WWII drama about a US Marine ordered to protect a Navajo code talker during the Battle of Saipan in the Pacific against Japan. Also stars Noah Emmerich, Mark Ruffalo, Christian and Peter Stormare. R. Movies 12.

MOVIE THEATERS
Use the links provided below for specific show times.

Bijou Art Cinemas
Bijou Theater 686-2458 | 492 E. 13th

Regal Cinemas
Cinema World 342-6536 | Valley River Center
Springfield Quad 726-9073 |

Cinemark Theaters
Movies 12 741-1231 | Gateway Mall
Movies before 12:30 are Sat. Sun. only. $1.50 all shows all days.
Cinemark 17 741-1231 | Gateway Mall

 



NEW RELEASES ON VIDEO:
Releases subject to change. Available the Tuesday following date of EW publication, sometimes sooner. See archived movie reviews at www.eugeneweekly.com

Collateral Damage: Andrew Davis's film about a firefighter who loses his wife and son in a L.A. terrorist attack stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Elias Koteas, Francesca Neri, John Leguizamo and John Turturro. R. Online archives.

Contract Killer: 1998 Hong Kong martial arts adventure directed by Wai Tung stars Jet Li and Eric Tsang. Crime boss is assassinated, and the family offers $1 million reward to those who find the killer. R.

Dinotopia: Television miniseries adventure about brothers who crash into an island co-inhabited by dinosaurs and people. Some 360 minutes long. NR.

Resident Evil: Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez play commando leaders trying to save the world in this action thriller based on the video game. R.

Next week: Adventures of Tom Thumb and Thumbelina, The Business of Strangers, Chelsea Walls, Deuces Wild, Dogtown and Z-Boys, Legend of 1900, Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings, Man of the Century, Repli-Kate and Women in Film.


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