10 Cloverfield Lane
Some movies let you know you're in good hands with the very first shot. The latest mystery wrapped in an enigma from producer J.J. Abrams, 10 Cloverfield Lane takes an instantly fraught premise and never stops stripping the screws. Within its narrow self-imposed parameters, it's just about perfect. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
Buzz One Four
A work-in-progress screening of Matt McCormick's documentary about a Cold War B-52 that crashed just outside of Washington, DC, with two thermonuclear bombs aboard. Director in attendance, and he'll be asking the audience questions! What! Hollywood Theatre, On Demand.
See review this issue. Laurelhurst Theater.
Creative Control imagines a near-future in which tech companies leverage massive marketing budgets to sell "augmented reality" gear—think Google Glass, but good. It's obvious that the creative powers behind this movie used to work in marketing and felt a little conflicted about their fat paychecks—the world-building here is uncannily on point, as stylish, self-hating "creatives" make bank as they work on soulless ad campaigns and art is rapaciously co-opted to sell shit. (One particularly inspired plot point sees an agency recruiting Reggie Watts to help create "content" for their campaign.) But the story that unfolds against this perfectly imagined backdrop is just another tale of next-gen sex dolls: Dude gets dangerously immersed in augmented reality, builds a virtual reality girlfriend, goes a little crazy. Taken as an axiom—"if the technology exists, men will fuck it"—it may be true, but it's also kinda boring. ALISON HALLETT Cinema 21.
Ryan Reynolds' second crack at Marvel's most in-your-face character, following a forgotten appearance in the misbegotten X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Deadpool is a terrifically faithful adaptation of some awfully obnoxious source material—if you're a pre-existing devotee, the film's nonstop assortment of cartoony assholes and elbows to the ribs might very well make your head pop off in a paroxysm of joy. Viewers who aren't quite as in touch with their filthy inner child, however, may find the experience of being ceaselessly clobbered over the head with the fourth wall to be a bit much. One of the things that made Tex Avery and Chuck Jones such geniuses is that they knew to keep it under 10 minutes. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
The Divergent Series: Allegiant
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
Eddie the Eagle
An exuberant crowd-pleaser about ski jumper Michael "Eddie" Edwards (played here by played by the unrealistically adorable Taron Egerton), who had his 15 minutes of fame at the 1988 Calgary Olympics. Despite all of its underdog clichés—the drunken coach, the stuffy officials, the unsupportive dad, the taunting Norwegians—Eddie the Eagle succeeds for the same reason the real Eddie did: optimism, good humor, and infectious, heart-on-sleeve enthusiasm. ERIC D. SNIDER Various Theaters.
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Wes Anderson's adaptation of the classic Roald Dahl story was the film that caused everyone to simultaneously realize all his previous films were quirky stop-motion shoebox comedies. It's just that he was limiting himself by making them with actual people. Academy Theater.
Field of Dreams
A horrifying supernatural thriller about a family man possessed by disembodied voices, compelling him to invade the privacy of a reclusive author, coercing him to return to his farm haunted by tangible turn-of-the-century spectres, who seduce the living into a baseball-themed limbo just beyond the green veil of a vandalized cornfield. Starring Gaby Hoffman as "Neglected Kid Who Chokes on a Hot Dog" and Ray Liotta as "Jesus Christ This Dude Was Always Unnerving to Look At." Hollywood Theatre.
The Fifth Element
"Leeloo Dallas mul-tee-pass." Laurelhurst Theater.
Grindhouse Film Festival
This month's entry into the Grindhouse canon is the 1974 car chase flick Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry, starring Peter Fonda as a driver with very poor decision-making skills! Such as his choice to secure funds for a new race car by robbing a grocery store, and then his choice to stop and pick up Susan George during the getaway. The rest of the film is a continued series of really awful (but really fun) decisions at 120 MPH in a Dodge Charger. Screening preceded by a 35mm exploitation trailer reel. Hollywood Theatre.
How we managed to make it this far without dragging Steven Seagal's corpulent belligerence into the mix may be a Hecklevision mystery, but consider it solved with this screening of On Deadly Ground, the first and last time Seagal attempted a conscience. Keep your texting thumbs at the ready for appearances by Michael Caine, Billy Bob Thornton, R. Lee Ermey, and Dr. Cox from Scrubs. You may like all those actors. You may even like Seagal (somehow). But spare them nothing; they took the check, so they can reap this Hecklevision whirlwind. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
Hello, My Name Is Doris
Oh, Doris. She's a jauntily dressed, late-middle-aged accountant played by Sally Field, crushing hard on a much younger coworker (New Girl's Max Greenfield, surprisingly likeable) and finding herself drawn into the fold of Brooklyn's most insufferable hipster community. (They like her colorful, vintage style!) Field and Greenfield are awfully charming in Hello, My Name Is Doris' never-gonna-happen romance—so charming, in fact, that you really want said romance to happen... and then you realize the limits of a Michael Showalter film. Still, Doris' awkwardness and discomfort when she's thrown in among neon-clad young people earnestly searching for authenticity while also being deeply superficial will resonate with anyone alive. Like any pleasant, low-key crush, Doris is fun while it lasts. MEGAN BURBANK Living Room Theaters.
Knight of Cups
Leaning hard into Terrence Malick's trend toward abstraction, Knight of Cups—which deals with things as tangible as sex and earthquakes, but also spends time in orbit, watching auroras twist across the surface of the Earth—can feel like watching Malick try to out-Malick Malick. But what keeps Knight of Cups from feeling too confusing—too goofy, too wanky—is the sense that Malick knows what he's doing. On a plot level, Knight of Cups is yet another entry in the "sad white dude is sad" genre, but with each of cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki's careful shots, and every time Malick submerges us into a rush of tumbling water, or strands us on a barren plain, Knight of Cups feels immersive and purposeful in a way few movies can. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Light and Shadows: Masters
A talented director of photography can make a good movie and save a bad one; the list of movies nearly ruined by incompetent directors but salvaged by expert DPs is substantial. If talk about light, shade, color, framing, and depth of field doesn't get your juices flowing, though, simply enjoy the remarkable movies the Hollywood's showing in this series: McCabe and Mrs. Miller, The Godfather, Days of Heaven, Seconds, and Targets. Also see "The Hollywood's Cinematographer Series Celebrates a Bunch of Dead Cameramen," Film, March 2. NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre.
Mere days after being released, the latest from Stephen Chow—the comic genius behind The God of Cookery, Shaolin Soccer, and Kung Fu Hustle—became the highest-grossing film in China. (Like, the highest-grossing film in China ever.) But Sony inexplicably fumbled the American release, dumping it in a scant few theaters with no notice, no ads, and not even an email to tell anybody it existed. That's too bad, because this frantic, sweet fable of a young mermaid (Lin Yun) sent to assassinate a money-grubbing business tycoon (Deng Chao) is a goddamn delight. Part romcom, part musical, part slapstick, and part ecological call-to-arms, the hilarious The Mermaid also serves as a reminder of how visually uninspired and thematically bland American comedies have become—especially when compared to something (anything) from the earnest, clever, wacked-out mind of Chow. This film also features a jetpack. ERIK HENRIKSEN Academy Theater.
Miracles From Heaven
You might be like "Why the hell is Jennifer Garner all over the news lately? Didn't she dump Batman about a year ago or so?" Well she's spilling deets on the Affleck breakup as a means to promote this Christian fantasy about a kid who goes to heaven and comes back to tell us aaaallll about it! Of course this faith-based attack on your wallet wasn't screened for critics. Who needs critics when you have the word of God? Various Theaters.
Of Bathtubs and Bikes
Film archivist Dennis Nyback bids departing artist Carye Bye farewell with selected 16mm shorts about either bathtubs and/or bikes, starring Buster Keaton, Andy Gump, Bing Crosby, and more. Hollywood Theatre.
The Omega Man
"There's never a cop around when you need one." Hollywood Theatre.
Considered an unexpected sleeper hit during its initial Japanese release in 1991, Disney acquired and subsequently sat on this stunning Studio Ghibli gem for nearly 20 years. Only Yesterday still holds up due to its timeless subject matter: change-of-life pondering and charming childhood flashbacks. If you can see the subtitled version, do, as Only Yesterday was animated after the voice actors' performances were recorded, with director Isao Takahata (The Tale of the Princess Kaguya) experimenting with creating more lifelike facial expressions. Still, the dub is perfectly serviceable, and the emphatic rants about organic farming are present in both versions—again, timeless. SUZETTE SMITH Fox Tower 10.
Rise of the Legend
Presenting the early, machete-strewn days of Wong Fei Hung, the 19th century folk hero Jet Li made famous in the Once Upon a Time in China series. Where those films emphasized the main character's balletic grace, the poetry-in-motion stuff here is almost incidental, with the emphasis on close-up, slow-motion bodily destruction. Lead Eddie Peng certainly has charisma to burn, but the film's strict adherence to the Batman Begins playbook leaves things feeling pretty dour, and probably a half hour longer than it needs to be. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
Treasures from the UCLA
Film & Television Archive
A slew of films culled from UCLA's Film & Television Archive, a media materials collection rivaled only by the Library of Congress. Films include Men in War (1957), John Ford's The Long Voyage Home (1940), Sam Taylor's My Best Girl (1927), and Douglas Sirk's First Legion (1951). More at nwfilm.org. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Considering my longstanding affection for Tina Fey and the fact that I am a lady journalist who once dreamed of being a foreign correspondent, it would be deeply silly to pretend to be the stony-browed face of impartial judgment when it comes to Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, starring Fey (she also produced!) as a war correspondent in Afghanistan. I am clearly its focus group; pleased to meet you. While WTF is uneven, what's utterly convincing is that somehow, this good-but-not-great movie has accurately captured that particular moment when a reporter discovers the ineffable joy of chasing a high-stakes story for the first time. It's something that I suspect fellow Fey-appreciating journalists will delight in. Everyone else, you're on your own. MEGAN BURBANK Various Theaters.
Wim Wenders: Portraits Along the Road
The long career of German director Wim Wenders has, for the most part, been made up of variations on the theme of an outsider trying to make sense of a new land or culture. That idea usually manifests in, or is projected upon, one figure: a goalie acclimating to a pair of unfamiliar cities, an angel patiently seeking to understand the fears and hopes of various Berliners, a European filmmaker stumbling through the streets of Los Angeles in search of his producer, or an American musician navigating the often-insular world of Cuban culture. And that's undoubtedly why many of his films—and the majority of the features being screened at a Wenders retrospective at the NW Film Center—are road movies. Also see "The Dazzling, Haunting Films of Wim Wenders," Film, March 2. ROBERT HAM NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
There's a lot that can be said about The Witch, but what matters most is just how remarkable a horror movie it is. Aided by Mark Korven's droning marvel of a score, director Robert Eggers' film largely eschews the easy relief of jump scares, instead building a supercharged atmosphere that amps up whenever something new enters the immaculately composed frame, be it man or rabbit or goat. (Oh, that goddamned goat.) By the final enigmatic scene, a sustained state of magic terror has been achieved that more than justifies the acres of hype. Hype that includes, by the way, a rather lucid, well-reasoned endorsement from an organization known as the Satanic Temple. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
In the alternate universe of Disney's Zootopia, animals have evolved—and have rejected the concept of "predator and prey," instead choosing to coexist in relative harmony. However, strict societal roles still exist, with weaker animals being pigeonholed into secondary positions while larger beasts run the city. When tiny rabbit Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) joins Zootopia's brutish police force, her attempts to crack the city's most baffling missing animal case are squashed, forcing her to team up with Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a local conman... errr... fox. Con-fox? One wouldn't be off-base to compare this flick to George Orwell's Animal Farm—though instead of targeting Stalinism, Zootopia's plot reflects America's current fear-based relationship with equality. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, March 18-Thursday, March 24, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.