Artists outside dominant culture find their voices
Based on the experiences of playwright Qui Nyugen's parents, who immigrated to the U.S. as refugees in the mid-1970s, the play moves back and forth in time between Vietnam and their early years in the U.S.
Scoping out the best at Full Frame
A terrific slate of films, all worth seeing
A new season at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival
For the first time in its history, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival acting company features a majority of actors of color.
Films with rich insight to the human condition
With a bit of Oscar commentary, I offer this list of the 10 best films of 2015
Last week before curtain call
Jump in and see what you can before it's over!
My favorites so far
The Portland International Film Festival is off to a great start.
Portland International Film Festival begins
Every year at this time, I am reminded of the range of stories I mostly don't get to see depicted in local theaters, because for a brief month in Portland, I get to broaden my palate. There really is a whole world out there beyond what Hollywood gives us -- and there is no better time to partake of that world than February in Portland when the Northwest Film Center gives us its Portland International Film Festival.
Director portrays First Nations people with dignity
The critical reaction to the work of Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu chronically illustrates how dominant culture bias affects what stories are told and valued on film.
Made on a tiny budget of $100,000, "Tangerine" is the quintessentially Hollywood picture.
Film tackles gender identity with wisdom, empathy
Learn why Judge Ortega simply loved "The Danish Girl."
‘Peace Officer’ Documentary screens in Portland
No matter where you think you stand on these issues, "Peace Officer" deserves attention and at least one viewing.
Working class upheaval on the Ashland stage
It often takes a generation or more before we can grapple very honestly with our most complicated stories, especially if they involve people at the margins, or people who aren't in a position to control the dominant narrative.
If you haven't gotten a chance to head down to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival this summer, Judge Ortega points out what you shouldn't miss on your next trip down.
‘Love and Mercy’ shows singer’s darker side
What I loved best about "Love and Mercy," the new film about Brian Wilson, the man whose genius powered the Beach Boys, is that it felt true -- deeply, complexly true, whether or not it is factually accurate -- yet also left me convinced that I don't and can't know the whole story of Brian Wilson's life.
‘Marie’s Story’ resonates for its victory over crushing defeats
The film is based on the true story of Marie Heurtin, born five years after Helen Keller in Vertou, France.
Oregon Shakespeare Festival works stir heart and soul
Love. Loss. Longing. Hope. Treachery. Resilience. All are the stuff of human existence -- and also the stuff of theater.
‘Salt of the Earth’ brings lens to farthest reaches of the globe
For most of the last 40 years, acclaimed photographer Sebastião Salgado has been traveling the globe and focusing his practiced photographer's eye primarily on the experiences of people at the margins -- the poor, the dispossessed, refugees, the starving, the homeless.
Some new documentaries worth waiting for
The last 11 docs that I saw at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, N.C., this month represent a range of quality, too. None are in theaters or online yet, but several are worth watching for.
Full Frame brings out best in documentaries
The Opinionated Judge takes on the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, North Carolina.
Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s diverse new season
There's something for everyone at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, year in and year out. It's always worth a trip down to Ashland, for the high quality of the productions, and also because the plays themselves are so thoughtfully selected, produced, and cast to bring a variety of voices and cultures to the stage.
Legendary trumpeter shows the way in ‘Keep on Keepin’ On’
The heralded film “Whiplash” depicts—realistically, I expect—a world of hungry aspiring jazz musicians.
Legendary trumpeter shows the way in ‘Keep on Keepin’ On’
The heralded film “Whiplash” depicts—realistically, I expect—a world of hungry aspiring jazz musicians who are easy prey for a brutal, sadistic conductor who deliberately pits them against each other, feeds and then assaults their fragile egos, and continually moves success just beyond their reach.
Surrender to a mood of appreciation
Something about the idea of a class of immortal beings, lurking in the shadows and choosing victims among the living because they must, persists in our collective imagination, fascinating terrain for exploring our own shadow regions.
Human spirit refuses to be crushed in ‘Timbuktu’
Gorgeous, poetic, pointed, and profound, this story of a small African community's experience of jihad manages to tell a political story without polemics, to portray with depth and insight how its victims actually experience religious extremism, and, at the same time, to unforgettably illustrate how the human spirit resists attempts to crush it.
My top 10 films of 2014
Judge Darleen Ortega eschews the whitest Oscar's in recent history and chooses her own top 10 of year.
My best to worst favorites at PIFF
Judge Darleen Ortega goes through what's hot and what's not at the 38th Portland International Film Festival.
International Film Festival an opening to the world
Every February, I travel the world--and so can you, or virtually so, because the Portland International Film Festival offers the most culturally diverse film event of the year, beginning this week.
‘Selma’ wisely depicts struggle for civil rights
What a treat, then, to watch “Selma”—and by a treat, I mean that I was riveted and inspired, and that I wept through most of it. For once, I found an insightful depiction of what working for social justice looks like. And what it looks like is broken bodies, fear, treachery, risk, mistakes, choices between terrible options, and unthinkable sacrifice. And it involves many heroes, not just one.
Third world drama ‘Metro Manila’ one of the best films of 2014
I saw "Metro Manila" back in February at the Portland International Film Festival and was so blown away by it that I hoped, against hope, that this taut and carefully constructed tale of a Filipino family trying to survive the harsh realities of life in Manila might actually get a U.S. theatrical release, though the commercial prospects for a tale in Tagalog seemed doubtful. My hopes failed to materialize, but the film is now available on Netflix and iTunes and Amazon, and I'm determined that everyone should see it. It's one of the best films I saw in 2014.
Film short on believability and promotes stereotypes
Is this a movie or an endurance test?
“Dear White People’ takes on privilege, identity and race
When was the last time you saw a film that challenged your assumptions about identity? Or one that depicted anything like the variety and complexity of identity struggles and micro-aggressions experienced by people outside the dominant culture(s)? Or one that managed both to make you feel understood and to make you squirm?
'A Wrinkle in Time' invites self-acceptance and discovery
Oregon Shakespeare Festival's "A Wrinkle in Time," invites audiences to travel through worlds of imagination and meaning.
A priest’s faith is tested as life hangs in the balance
Our 'Opinionated Judge' Darleen Ortega on the film 'Calvary', "This film deals with the question of faith in a challenging way, which also involves dealing with the question of fairness."
Biopic on James Brown gets it right
From the sheer energy in the musical performances, to capturing some of the harder parts of the cultural icon, the biopic on James Brown, 'Get On Up' "makes you feel it," says our 'Opinionated Judge' Darleen Ortega.
Capturing the soul of growing up
"Never has a film so poignantly captured the sweet ache of family life, of parenting, and of the passing of childhood." Our Opinionated Judge reviews the film Richard Linklater film, "Boyhood".
Rock musical brings outsider voices to art and relationships
Our 'Opinionated Judge' reviews Oregon Shakespeare Festival's premier production of "Family Album," a rock musical that tackles the struggles for authentic expression in art and relationships.
Play about broken relationships and other works highlight Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Our 'Opinionated Judge' takes on the Oregon Shakespeare festival play 'Water By the Spoon' examining the sometimes messy and beautiful connections that make family relationships.
Film ‘Ida’ keeps its focus on a family’s history
Our 'Opinonated Judge' reviews the film 'Ida'
Mindful curiosity to an odd and ordinary life
Our 'Opinionated Judge' Darleen Ortega critiques the film "Finding Vivian Maier''--that probes mysteries about the human experience with a vigorous curiosity that may be deemed obsessive.
Oregon Shakespeare Festival revives play by African American playwright
Our 'Opinionated Judge' Darleen Ortega reviews Oregon Shakespeare Festival's production of the late Lorraine Hansberry play "The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window".
‘In Bloom’ has teenage friends dealing with the world on their own terms
Our 'Opinionated Judge' Darleen Ortega reviews "In Bloom", a film that sees teenage friends dealing with the world on their own terms.
Some wonderful films get the attention they deserve
Our 'Opinionated Judge' Darleen Ortega reflects on her 10 favorite films of 2013 in preparation for this years upcoming Oscars
It’s the final stretch for Portland International Film Festival
Our 'Opinionated Judge' reviews films from the final stretch of this year's Portland International Film Festival.
Screenings get past weather warnings
The Portland International Film Festival trudges on through all kinds of weather -- and I found a decent turnout at the screenings I attended
Diverse lineup promises another great run
It's time for one of Portland’s highlights of the year: The Portland International Film Festival. For the last 37 years, the Northwest Film Center has been hosting PIFF and its diverse array of films to screen over two glorious weeks in February. It's such a brilliant opportunity to see films from all over the world, most of which you won't ever see in wide release and many of which may be hard to find after the festival runs its course.
Joaquin Phoenix navigates technology in search for love
A lovely and heartfelt film
‘Saving Mr. Banks’ renews Mary Poppins charm
Opinionated Judge Darleen Ortega reviews the Disney blockbuster
‘American Hustle’ delivers on laughs, characters and fashions
Our 'Opinonated Judge' reviews the David O. Russell film, "American Hustle"
'Inside Llewyn Davis' rich in storytelling and music
Joel and Ethan Coen have another hit with 'Inside Llewyn Davis' their feature film about the struggles of a young folk singer who navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961.
Hannah Arendt’s riveting search for the truth
A riveting and inspiring film about a visionary thinker with the courage to rigorously examine hard questions and to express and then hold to her perspective on those questions, even in the face of withering criticism.