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New Reviews

Movies: 'Ballot Measure 9' (NR), 'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly' (PG-13), 'The Orphanage' (R), 'Youth Without Youth' (R)
by: COURTESY OF MIRAMAX FILMS, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”

Edited by Lee Williams

'Ballot Measure 9' (NR)

As part of a weekendlong celebration of those who've fought for gay rights in Oregon, the Q Center will screen the acclaimed 1995 documentary 'Ballot Measure 9.'

The film chronicles the donnybrook unleashed by a 1992 initiative that would have obliged the state government, including schools, to characterize homosexuality as 'perverse' and 'wrong.'

Nearly 1.5 million Oregonians went to the polls to decide the issue. The defeat of the measure gave rise to the organization Basic Rights Oregon and sent the conservative Oregon Citizens Alliance into decline.

A number of individuals involved in both the film and the events it reports will be in attendance, including Mayor Tom Potter and filmmaker Heather MacDonald.

- Eric Bartels

7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11, Q Center, 69 S.E. Taylor St., 503-234-7837, www.pdxqcenter.org, donations accepted

'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly' (PG-13)

Painter-director Julian Schnabel pulls off something pretty remarkable with this film based on the memoir of Jean-Dominique Bauby, editor of French Elle magazine, who awoke from a stroke-induced coma mentally fit but physically paralyzed.

With the help of therapists, he dictated the memoir via a technique involving the blinking of his left eyelid (his only functional body part).

While you might fear a paralyzing dose of inspiration, Schnabel offers instead an experience as fresh and cleansing as an ocean breeze. Beginning with Bauby's initially claustrophobic point of view and opening up so subtly you barely notice, the film itself (with Mathieu Amalric superb as Bauby) expands and deepens with an impressionistic beauty that never is overstated.

It is, somehow, just beautiful enough - fluid, luminous and liberating.

- Pat Holmes

Fox Tower

'The Orphanage' (R)

Trumpeted as being 'presented by Guillermo del Toro,' this Spanish film from first-time director Juan Antonio Bayona may benefit from being associated with del Toro's acclaimed 'Pan's Labyrinth,' but it's a very, very different sort of a movie.

More a thriller than a horror flick, 'The Orphanage' falls squarely into the ghosts-in-the-old-house school that includes 'The Others' and del Toro's lesser-seen 'The Devil's Backbone.'

Belen Rueda ('The Sea Inside') plays Laura, who has purchased the aging orphanage where she grew up, moving into it with her husband (Fernando Cayo) and young son (Roger Princep).

When the child goes missing, Laura's convinced that it was the work of his creepy 'imaginary friends' and finds herself investigating her own childhood as ghosts of orphans past play games with her head.

There's little here that's new, but it still manages to jangle the nerves. The cinematography by Oscar Faura is breathtaking, and Bayona brings an elegance of tale telling that's far more accomplished than one usually sees in a scare flick.

- Dawn Taylor

Fox Tower

'Youth Without Youth' (R)

Francis Ford Coppola's first film in a decade is his self-financed return to personal filmmaking.

Whatever else, it will differ with each viewer. It's an elegantly filmed, mysterious, romantic, sometimes muddled study of an elderly professor (an atypical role for Tim Roth) who is given back a few decades when he is struck by lightning.

In certain sections you might think you're watching an H.G. Wells tale with Claude Rains from Universal in the '40s (intrigue, Nazis, weird science, pursuit); elsewhere, you might think it's a lush Bertolucci-esque romantic mystery.

You get mysticism, linguistics, metaphysics and mumbo jumbo in a slowly bubbling cauldron of styles, ideas and philosophical noodling. Provoking or puzzling, seductive or numbing, it remains engaging fun in a rarefied, not-afraid-to-be-ridiculous way.

- PH

Fox Tower

Also new this week:

Members of the '60s psychedelic band the Holy Modal Rounders perform with the Freak Mountain Ramblers after Friday's screening of 'Holy Modal Rounders … Bound to Lose' (7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11, Hollywood Theatre).

The film tracks the 40-year career of the fringe folk-rockers, whose work appeared in the classic flick 'Easy Rider.'

Five autistic children endeavor to stage a musical in Tricia Regan's tough and touching documentary 'Autism: The Musical,' a celebration of creativity and courage (Clinton Street Theater).

Goofy groundskeeper Carl Spackler (Bill Murray) chases that wily gopher across the greens to a Kenny Loggins soundtrack in 'Caddyshack' (Laurelhurst Theater).