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At War with Privilege
A survivor's tale.
BY LOIS WADSWORTH

IGBY GOES DOWN: Written and directed by Burr Steers. Produced by Marco Weber, Lisa Tornell. Executive producers, Fran Lucci, David Rubin, Lee Solomon, Helen Beadleston. Cinematography, Wedigo Von Schultzendorff. Production design, Kevin Thompson. Editor, William Anderson. Costumes, Sarah Edwards. Music supervisor, Nic Harcourt. Music composer, Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen. Starring Kieran Culkin, Claire Danes, Jeff Goldblum, Jared Harris, Amanda Peet, Ryan Phillippe, Bill Pullman and Susan Sarandon. United Artists, 2002. R. 98 minutes.

Igby's the kind of 17-year-old you look at and say, thank God he's not mine. Igby (he adopted the nickname of his teddy bear) is smart, sure of himself and funny, but not if you are trying to 1) raise him 2) teach him or 3) plan for his future. If he were in your high school, you might find him a tad too weird, unless you're an outsider, too. Even so, his sarcastic wit is distancing.

IGBY (KIERAN CULKIN) AND SOOKIE (CLAIRE DANES) FIND COMMON GROUND.

In the most unsympathetic role of her career, Susan Sarandon plays Igby's mother, Mimi Slocumb, a high-strung, self-absorbed, wealthy woman with no patience for her delinquent son. She doesn't need the trouble he causes, especially not when she has good elder son, Oliver (Ryan Philippe), a yuppie-in-training. Pretentious and arrogant, Oliver's the type who would ask, "May I be excused, Mother?" instead of fleeing as Igby does.

Igby (Kieran Culkin) doesn't extend Oliver nor Mimi the benefit of a doubt. His only ally, his father, Jason (Bill Pullman), breaks down in the shower one morning as schoolboy Igby watches in alarm. Jason has tried hard to please Mimi, and his babbling breakdown solidifies his inevitable commitment to a mental health facility. Pullman gives a terrific (and terrifying) performance as a good-hearted man who doesn't have the armor to survive a demanding domestic life and a bruising business world. Likewise, Culkin makes no false move showing Igby's prickly personality, a more complicated project than playing straight-out rebel Tim Sullivan in The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys.

Mimi deploys Igby to a strict military school, hoping to cure him of the activities that have gotten him expelled from a series of spendy prep schools. But Igby outsmarts everyone and gets kicked out. Igby's super-rich godfather, the slightly sinister D.H. (Jeff Goldblum), offers the boy a summer job fixing up his Manhattan real estate. Such good will depends strictly on what D.H. calls a "contract," in which Igby agrees to keep his word and stay out of trouble. Not too likely, considering Igby's singular focus on snatching the freedom to screw up his own life his own way.

Attending a party at D.H.'s summer place, Igby meets D.H.'s willowy choreographer mistress, Rachel (Amanda Peet). Later when Igby succeeds in subverting Mimi's plan to have him reinstated at the military academy, he sprints over to the apartment he fixed up the previous summer only to find that D.H. has installed Rachel there. Through Rachel he meets Russel (Jared Harris), an over-the-top performance artist, who would not be considered a good role model by even the most liberal standards.

The really good person Igby meets at D.H.'s party and hooks up with again in New York is Sookie Saperstein (Claire Danes). Down to earth but sensual and actually interested in Igby despite their age difference, Sookie provides a touchstone for Igby in a world where values are of-the-moment things. She's the real goods, so it's no surprise when it turns out that older bro Oliver also finds himself smitten with her as well.

This quirky kid muddling through a confusing time in his life may sound like a Holden Caufield saga updated for the '02 crowd, but Igby is about more than rebellion. He's so spunky, you've just got to love him, and at last Mimi acknowledges that love. For Igby, the old one-step-forward, two-back dance that most of us remember from our own early adulthood is simply the way things are, and he's rushing toward his future as fast as he can. I love this movie!

Opens Friday at the Bijou. Highest recommendations.

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Love Yourself
Without reservation.
BY LOIS WADSWORTH

NOTORIOUS C.H.O. (Documentary) Produced, directed and edited by Lorene Machado. Written by Margaret Cho. Executive producers, Karen Taussig, Margaret Cho. Field producers, Suzanne Ali and Andrea Cunningham. Music, Andrea Bensmiller, Eve Buigues, Greg Burns, Jeff Burns, Jariya. Cinematography, Kirk Miller. Production design, Kristin Zavorska. Starring Margaret Cho. Cho Taussig Productions, Inc. Wellspring Media, 2002. 95 minutes. Not rated.

In her second performance documentary, stand-up comedian Margaret Cho stays with the subjects she likes best: her mother, gay men, her sexual problems and sex, sex, sex. She's a very funny woman, and it's easy to laugh at her take on her own and our sexual absurdities. But she also has a more serious side, which she wisely holds until the end of her show, and even then makes humor around it. She defines her community as those people who feel sexually marginalized in a dominant heterosexual culture as well as those whose bodies don't conform to the media's projected image. Her attention and good will give them a voice.

Cho's routines about her traditional Korean American mother are my favorites. Her actual mother and father chat in the lobby before the performance at Seattle's Paramount Theatre in November 2001. Both senior Chos support their daughter's work, and neither apologizes for her dirty jokes. Her mother is very sweet, while her dad takes the attitude that laughing at our own sexuality is healthy. He said he's glad they came to this country because it has given his daughter "a platform to tell her stories."

The routine Cho does about her parents in this show uses her mother's voice telling Margaret a story about how "Deddy's just a liddle bit gay." This wonderful family anecdote enriches the program and balances the broad comic forays Cho takes into sexual practices not ordinarily talked about even on comedy shows.

It's plain from hearing the audience respond to her gay jokes that Cho has a great, loyal following in the gay community. And she adores them. She talks about her first gay friends, two fellow students in high school, both now dead, noting that she thinks of them every day. "I learned everything I needed to know from gay men," she said.

One of her funniest lines is that if she were looking for a woman to have sex with, she would seek a "big bull-dyke who looks like John Goodman." Hilariously, a woman in the crowd after the show, who looks remarkably like the actor, laughingly describes herself in just those terms. A distillation of what Cho intends in her work, it's a liberating moment, shared with expansive humor.

The performance depends a great deal on Cho's timing and delivery, because the show is carefully scripted in the lean style characteristic of her work. She uses words — even dirty words — very carefully. And her elastic facial expressions convey experiences and reactions that reach beyond words to a more primal human core.

Cho's fearless ability to pull stories up from her own feelings is her greatest triumph as a performer. The emotional truth of self-exploration supplies her show with riches. Working such personal material into routines publicly performed is possible only because she has come to peace with them herself. Love yourself without reservations, she says. And give yourself to love without restraint.

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Conservatory Cruelties
Sadomasochism.
BY LOIS WADSWORTH

THE PIANO TEACHER (Austria, France, 2000): Written and directed by Michael Haneke, based on the novel by Elfriede Jelinek. Produced by Veit Heiduschka, Marin Kamitz and Alain Sarde. Executive producers, Michael Katz and Yvon Crenn. Cinematography, Christian Berger. Editors, Monika Willi, Nadine Muse. Production design, Christoph Kanter. Music, Martin Achenbach. Costumes, Annette Beaufays. Starring Isabelle Huppert, with Benoit Magimal and Annie Giradot. Also, Anna Sigalevitch, Susanne Lothar and Udo Samel. Kino International Release, 2002. 130 minutes. Not rated.

French actress Isabelle Huppert has many admirers for her stern, austere acting style, but I'm not one of them. The way she holds back feels stingy to me, as if she's afraid to smile or express happiness or generate warmth. Well, if you've been waiting to see what would happen if Huppert did laugh, for example, you're out of luck with The Piano Teacher. In this demeaning, hollow film she plays Erika Kohut, yet another miserable character who wants to punish a variety of victims, starting with her mother.

ERIKA (ISABELLE HUPPERT) AND WALTER'S (BENOIT MAGIMEL) SORDID LITTLE BATHROOM TRYST.

Now, mother (Annie Giradot), deserves her share. Mother and daughter are bound to each other in mutual unconsciousness, as expressed in the bedroom — where else? — where they sleep side-by-side in twin beds pushed together. In one of the film's earliest scenes, Erika returns home one evening with a shopping bag. Mother is waiting up for her, her fury barely held in check. She attacks Erika at the door, grabs a new dress out of the bag. They slap each other around. In this ugly scene, repressed, unacknowledged emotions explode and rage through their bodies. Later, apologies. But nothing is accomplished, and it's certain that this sordid scene or something like it will be repeated.

Erika's piano students, however, do not deserve the willful, withholding of praise or even recognition that she dishes out daily. Erika may be a musical genius — disciplined, focused and analytical — but she has no human emotions and enjoys degrading students who do. Then she meets Walter Klemmer (Benoit Magimel), a talented pianist who wants to study with her because he lusts for her. She gets him all hot and bothered, and then springs her master plan on him.

I won't detail for you the ways in which Erika wants Walter to debase her. I'm not a student of sadism or masochism, and I don't have an urge to know. Apparently, Walter doesn't either. But Erika's got her kicks all figured out. Unfortunately, she didn't calculate Walter's very well. He humiliates her, all right, but his way, not hers. His act is as misguided and ruthless as her kinky demands, just more common.

Elfriede Jelinek, who wrote the novel on which the film is based, sounds as bloodless and icy as Erika. She can best "criticize society from a negative perspective," she writes, presenting the dark side of Austrian pride in its music and musical geniuses as "the renunciation by hundreds of female piano teachers of their libido." Even if Jelinek's thesis is correct, it doesn't account for Erika's extreme kinkiness. Who's fooling whom here, Ms. Jelinek? Erika's a monster, as her ongoing genital mutilation attests, and quite possibly mad.

In adapting Jelinek's skewed ideas to film, director Michael Haneke sadistically makes sure to punish the viewers for coming to see it. It's very difficult to sit through this long, hateful film about a hate-filled woman. There are no redeeming moments. Walter's feelings change from incredulity to repulsion to violent aggression, but that's hardly a change for the better.

The Piano Teacher opens Friday at the Bijou. No stars.

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OPENING OR RETURNING:
Films open the Friday following date of EW publication unless otherwise noted. See archived movie reviews.

Ghost Ship: Steve Beck's horror film about an ocean liner missing since 1935 that turns up in the Bering Sea. Stars Julianna Margulies, Gabriel Byrne, Ron Eldard and Isaiah Washington. R. Cinemark, Cinema World.

Igby Goes Down: Burr Steers' directing debut is this excellent tale of a smart teenager (Kieran Culkin) whose wealthy mother (Susan Sarandon) makes life difficult. He runs away to New York, where he connects with all the wrong people and the one right one (Claire Danes). Love this movie! Highest recommendations. R. Bijou. See review this issue.

Jackass: The Movie: Based on the MTV series, more dangerous and silly stunts. R. Cinema World. Cinemark.

Kolya: Set in Prague in the late 1980s, a Czech musician becomes the unwilling father to a 5-year-old boy after the Russian woman he marries emigrates to the West, where he cannot follow her. Winner of '96 Academy Award for best foreign language film. No rating. At 7 pm on 10/25 in International Lounge, EMU, UO campus. Free.

Master of Disguise: Dana Carvey plays Pistachio Disguisey, a waiter who turns into whatever he thinks of next - a cherry pie, a rockstar, a sports hero. PG. Movies 12.

Notorious C.H.O.: Korean-American stand-up comedian Margaret Cho delivers a new show, filmed live in Seattle, in which she does her famous impersonation of her traditional mother, Mommie, rants about colonic irrigation and talks about her drag-queen guardian angels. Directed by Lorene Machado. Not rated. Bijou. See review this issue.

Piano Teacher, The: Michael Haneke's film stars Isabelle Huppert in one of her more degrading roles as a sexually repressed piano teacher who repulses the ardor of a student with her demand for kinky sex. A hateful film about an enraged woman and her debasement. Not rated. Bijou. See review this issue.

Pokemon 4Ever: What do you need to know? More of the same. G. Cinemark.

Road to Perdition: Sam Mendes 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. Beautiful cinematography, powerful drama. R. Movies 12. Online archives.

Slave of Love (Raba Liubvi, Russia, 1976): Love and politics. A film crew working in the Crimea gets caught up in the Russian revolution. At 7:45 pm 10/30 in 115 Pacific Hall, UO. Free.

Smoke Signals: Writer/co-producer Sherman Alexie's prize-winning contemporary tale of young Native Americans, played by Adam Beach and Evan Adams, on a road trip. Film is directed by 28-year-old Chris Eyre of Klamath Falls. A sweet look at coming-of-age, figuring out who your friends are, and forgiving your parents. PG-13. At 7:30 pm on 10/29 in 122 Pacific Hall, UO. Free.

Time Changer: Christian Cinema release about a Bible professor from 1890 who time-travels to the future. Directed by Rich Christiano. PG. Cinema World.

Trembling Before G_d: Documentary about the secret lives of gay and lesbian Orthodox and Hasidic Jews. Producer, director Sandi Simcha DuBowski will be present at the screening at 7 pm on 10/29 in 100 Willamette Hall, UO.

Truth About Charlie, The: Jonathan Demme's remake of Charade (1963) stars Thandie Newton and Mark Wahlberg. She's a recent widow discovering her dead husband's secrets. Three of his former associates are after her. PG-13. Cinemark.

Warren Miller's Storm: Shot at 17 locations around the world, this film about helicopter-delivered big mountain skiing and snow boarding also includes great experiences at Sun Valley, Aspen/Snowmass and Steamboat, Colorado. My faves: South Georgia Island, the site of Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1914 adventure and the US Marines at a High Sierra's training center. At 7 pm on 10/27 in South Eugene Auditorium. At 7 pm on 10/27 in Elsinore Theater, Salem. At 8 pm on 10/26 in OSU Austin Auditorium, Corvallis.

Waterboys (Japan): Written and directed by Shinobu Yaguchi, this happy comedy is about five high school misfits who try to organize a synchronized swimming team. At 7 pm on 10/25 in 214 McKenzie Hall, UO. Free.

Z (1968): The actual 1963 assassination of Greek activist Gregorios Lambrakis is the basis for this electrifying film starring Yves Montand, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Irene Papas. Seen recently on cable, this documentary-feeling film has become more relevant with time. Highest recommendations. At 7 pm on 10/30 in 110 Fenton, UO. Free.

 

CONTINUING:
Abandon: Directed by Stephen Gaghan (Traffic writer) and starring Katie Holmes as a co-ed whose boyfriend disappeared two years earlier, and Benjamin Bratt as the detective who turns up surprising new facts about her friend. PG-13. Cinemark.

Austin Powers in Goldmember: Third time is charmed as Mike Myers comes back in multiple roles as Austin Powers. Michael Caine plays his secret-agent dad and Beyoncé Knowles is Foxxy Cleopatra. Directed by Jay Roach. Mini-Me takes the cake! PG-13. Movies 12. Online archives.

Banger Sisters, The: Susan Sarandon and Goldie Hawn play 1960s-era rock star groupies who get reacquainted in Bob Dolman's comedy. Great performances from Hawn, Geoffrey Rush and Eva Amurri. Highly recommended. R. Movies 12. Online archives.

Barbershop: Sweet-natured comedy about a day in the life of a south side Chicago barbershop stars Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Sean Patrick Thomas, Troy Garity, Eve. This movie makes you feel good. Recommended. 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 tries to discover who he is and why everyone wants to kill him. A subtle skewing of the genre, it's highly recommended. PG-13. Movies 12. Online archives.

Brown Sugar: Beautiful childhood friends Taye Diggs and Sanaa Lathan must now choose others or each other. Rick Famuyiwa directs. Queen Latifah and Mos Def co-star. PG-13. Cinemark.

Fast Runner, The (Atanarjuat, 2002): Zacharias Kunuk directs the first feature film in 80 years about the Inuit people of northern Canada. The New York Times called it "a masterpiece," noting: "You are so completely caught up in the codes and rituals of a nomadic, tribal society governed by complex ideas of honor and loyalty that it is easy to overlook the artistry that has put them before you." It's based on a traditional Inuit folk epic. R. Bijou. Online archives.

Formula 51: Samuel L. Jackson plays a streetwise American master chemist whose product makes you feel 51 times better than any other concoction on the planet. Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty) has different plans. Directed by Hong Kong action director Ronny Yu. R. Cinema World. Cinemark.

Jonah: A Veggietales Movie: Christian-themed direct-to-video franchise goes big screen in this version of Jonah and the Whale. Biblical figures are played by talking vegetables. Directed by Mike Nawrocki and Phil Vischer. G. Cinemark.

Knockaround Guys: Four wannabe Mafiosas — Vin Diesel, Seth Green, Barry Pepper and Andrew Davoli — sort of follow instructions from Uncle Teddy (John Malkovich) and Benny Chains (Dennis Hopper) to buy the silence of a Montana sheriff but manage to find lots of trouble on their own. "The Sopranos" probably does it better. R. Cinemark.

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. Movies 12.

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. Movies 12. 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. Movies 12.

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. Cinema World. Cinemark. Online archives.

Red Dragon: The first literary appearance of Hannibal Lector was in Thomas Harris's 1981 novel, Red Dragon; his film debut was in Michael Mann's 1986 Manhunter. Now we have Anthony Hopkins returning as the cannibal, serial killer made famous by Jonathan Demmme's 1991 blockbuster, Silence of the Lambs. Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Harvey Keitel, Emily Watson, Mary-Louise Parker and Philip Seymour Hoffman flesh out the cast. Directed by Brett Ratner (Rush Hour). R. Cinema World. Cinemark.

Ring, The: Gore Verbinski finds a solid cast in Naomi Watts (Mulholland Drive), Chris Cooper and Brian Cox for this remake of Hideo Nakata's 1998 Japanese horror film. PG-13. Cinema World. Cinemark.

Scooby Doo: TV's 1969 Great Dane, Scooby, returns as a computer-generated detective dog in this comedy starring Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Matthew Lillard. PG. Movies 12.

Signs: Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan and starring Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix in this supernatural thriller about crop circles. Also stars Rory Culkin and Abigail Breslin. PG-13. Cinemark. Online archives.

Spider Man: Tobey Maguire stars in Sam Raimi's film and makes Spidey a comic book superhero we can all appreciate. Also stars Willem Dafoe as the Green Goblin, Kirsten Dunst as the girl, James Franco, Cliff Robertson, Rosemary Harris and J.K. Simmons. Highly recommended. PG-13. Movies 12. Online archives.

Sweet Home Alabama: Andy Tennant directs the fabulous Reese Witherspoon in this comedy about a hot fashion designer who returns to the South to get a divorce from scruffy hubby #1 (Josh Lucas) so she can marry rich Patrick Dempsey. PG-13. Cinemark Cinema World.

Swimfan: Fatal Attraction for teens — just what everyone needs! Romantic attachment of swimmer Jesse Bradford and his sweetheart Shiri Appleby gets blown apart by the new girl and obsessive fan, Erika Christensen. PG-13. Movies 12.

Transporter, The: Corey Yuen directs, Luc Bresson produces and co-writes this crime thriller starring Asian star Shu Qi and Jason Statham. PG-13. Cinemark.

Tuck Everlasting: The story of a teenager (Alexis Bledel) who wants to get away from her mother (Amy Irving). Lost in the woods, she meets a boy named Jesse Tuck (Jonathan Jackson). His family (William Hurt, Sissy Spacek, Scott Bairstow) has a secret spring that makes one immortal, and they're trying to keep it safe from Ben Kingsley. PG. Cinemark.

Tuxedo, The: PG-13. Jackie Chan's a limo driver who borrows his boss' tux only to discover that it's a high-tech killing machine. With Jennifer Love Hewitt and Peter Stormare. PG-13. Cinema World

White Oleander: Peter Kosminsky directs the film adaptation of this best-seller about a young girl (Alison Lohman) who moves through several foster home after her mother (Michelle Pfeiffer) goes to prison. Also stars Renée Zellweger, Robin Wright Penn, Billy Connolly, Patrick Fugit and Noah Wyle. R. Cinemark.

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.

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.

Malcolm in the Middle: Season one on 3-disc DVD set includes deleted scenes and gag reel.

Mysterious Island (1961): The Ray Harryhousen Signature Collection DVD includes The Making of Mysterious Island," "The Harryhausen Chronicles," "This Is Dynamation" featurette.

Santa Clause Special Edition (1994) Santa Claus, The: Comic allegory about losing the capacity to believe in goodness stars Tim Allen and is directed by John Pasquin. Also stars Eric Lloyd, Mary Gross, Judge Reinhold, Peter Boyle. DVD extras holiday recipes, elf training featurette, sneak peek Santa Clause 2. PG.

Next week: Band of Brothers, Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, The Decameron (1970), Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, Good Evening Mr. Wallenberg, Pumpkin, Spider Man, Sports Night and X Files.


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