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AN EVENING WITH JOHN SAYLES

The Northwest Film Center plays host to one of America's truly independent filmmakers, appearing with his influential debut film 'The Return of the Secaucus Seven.' This look at a reunion of former radical pals established the sense of character and place that would mark Sayles' later work. Six more of his films will be shown in the coming weeks, but this is the only one of the Sayles Seven at which the director will appear. (Pat Holmes)

7 p.m. Saturday, March 23, Whitsell Auditorium, Portland Art Museum

KISSING JESSICA STEIN (R)

This is a romantic comedy with a lesbian twist, based on the play 'Lipschtick' by Jennifer Westfeldt and Heather Juergensen. It's about a disappointed single named Jessica (Westfeldt) who answers a personals ad placed by another woman, Helen (Juergensen). Jessica approaches the relationship as if it were a Lesbianism 101 term project and flusters the less neurotic Helen. Audiences in turn may be flustered by the film's tightrope walk between cleverness and cuteness. It does seem overly confident in a winsome charm it doesn't possess, especially when Westfeldt's Jessica comes on like a minor league Diane Keaton. (PH)

Fox Tower

LAST ORDERS (R)

Based on Graham Swift's Booker Prize-winning novel, this Fred Schepsi film examines 40 years of friendship among four men, played by some of the finest actors of our lifetime. The death of Jack (Michael Caine) is the catalyst for a trip down memory lane as his companions (Bob Hoskins, David Hemmings, Tom Courtenay and Ray Winstone) travel from South London to scatter his ashes at the seaside. That the actors on board here are brilliant is no surprise. What's impressive is the seamless way they capture these ordinary men, all of whose lives have been disappointments in one way or another. (Dawn Taylor)

Fox Tower

SHOWTIME (PG-13)

Cantankerous veteran cop Robert De Niro and overeager patrolman Eddie Murphy are reluctantly (how else?) teamed for a reality TV series produced by the always appealing Rene Russo. Under the routine direction of budding buddy-movie specialist Tom Dey ('Shanghai Noon'), the tolerable comic business is mismatched with flat action stuff. The best bits, which you see almost entirely in the trailers and television spots, involve William Shatner as himself, benefiting the rookie actors with his experience as TV's T.J. Hooker. It's all amiable enough, but really now, did you ever think you'd see a Robert De Niro movie that needed more William Shatner? (PH)

Area theaters

SORORITY BOYS (R)

This cross between 'Some Like It Hot' and 'Porky's' breaks no new ground with the exception of a sex-aid sword fight. But it doesn't matter. To vehemently declare this movie stupid or offensive is like yelling at a three-legged dog to run faster. The film is what it is Ñ a fast-paced, ribald romp in the tradition of early '80s teen sex flicks. The characters speak in a brutally realistic college lexicon, and the three cross-dressing leads deliver hilarious physical performances. (Tina Satter)

Area theaters