Featured Stories

P-towns no hit at the box office

On the town

It's not every day a big Hollywood production company comes to P-town to make a movie, so when they do, of course, we all get very excited.

Who, for example, can forget the filming of 'The Hunted,' in which Benicio Del Toro, who plays a whacked-out Special Forces assassin, starts knocking off deer hunters in the woods outside the city. Only his former instructor, Tommy Lee Jones, himself riddled by guilt, can bring him to justice.

The filmmakers took over the Hawthorne Bridge, effectively shutting down traffic there for a month. And not only that, in the film, after Del Toro falls from the bridge in the course of a thrilling fight scene, he washes ashore five minutes later in Oregon City, which among other things, happens to be upstream.

Before that there was 'Body of Evidence,' in which Madonna plays the part of a young, sex-crazed secretary, accused in Multnomah County Circuit Court - there's really no good way to say this - of intentionally bonking her aged employer to death. And in the Pittock Mansion, no less.

Not that something like this couldn't actually happen in Portland, I suppose, but can you imagine the DA's office not finding some way to settle out of court?

And, now, bless our cinematically challenged hearts, we have 'Untraceable.'

• • •

Now, I'm not saying that 'Untraceable' is necessarily a lousy movie. Or even, as a raft of local reviewers did, that it's worse than 'The Hunted' or 'Body of Evidence' - or for that matter, several other locally filmed clunkers that I forgot to mention, such as 'Mr. Brooks,' 'Feast of Life' and 'Navy Diver.'

At least they gave the Hawthorne business district a break this time and used the Broadway Bridge, which they closed down for only five days. That's certainly a mark in their favor.

Just so you know what you're getting into, though, I think it's only fair to warn you that it's about a deranged serial killer who not only broadcasts each murder over the Internet but has somehow managed to hook up his fiendishly clever murder devices to the number of hits his Web site gets.

In other words, the more people who check in to watch, the faster his victims die.

• • •

And if you're thinking that sounds like a job for the Portland FBI, you're on the money. Diane Lane, who incidentally has a remarkable set of cheekbones for an FBI special agent, is on the case from the get-go.

Will she nab the evil Internet villain before he turns the tables and hangs her upside-down over the whirling blades of a rapidly approaching garden cultivator? I'll never tell.

One thing for sure, though, Portland never looked darker or wetter on the big screen. If 'Untraceable' never really manages to rise above the level of your average TV cop show, it at least serves to remind the rest of the nation that this is not where you want to schedule your winter vacation.

If you stop to think about it, there hasn't been a really good feature movie made here since Gus Van Sant's 'Drugstore Cowboy,' and that was in 1989. Since then the pickings have been pretty slim.

As one local writer already has suggested, it's as if we've been visited by a civic curse of major proportions.

Nothing against 'Untraceable,' you understand, but what did we do to deserve this?

Contact Phil Stanford by phone, 503-546-5166, or by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..