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.
American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs
A documentary about the activist, featuring interviews with Angela Davis, Bill Moyers, Bill Ayers, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, Danny Glover, and more. Screening followed by a panel discussion with Llondyn Elliott and Eric Knox. Hollywood Theatre.
The Hollywood's film series where audiences check off a bingo card full of B-movie clichés. This month's entry: Last Man Standing. Not the Bruce Willis/Walter Hill team-up from 1996 (although that could also qualify for this series), but something a lot less aspirational and ambitious, starring Jeff Wincott and Jonathan Banks (Mike from Breaking Bad!) as cops trying to track down a murderous bank robber named Snake Underwood. Hollywood Theatre.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Director Zack Snyder picks up right where 2013's Man of Steel left off, and believe it or not, he's turned up the gloom and heavy-handedness. BvS is exactly what you're expecting, but longer, louder, and with an almost unfathomable amount of digitally created violence. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
The Big Short
There's nothing subtle about The Big Short. Director Adam McKay (Anchorman) uses every trick in the Martin Scorsese handbook—freeze-frame, montage, fourth-wall-breaking narration—to tell the true story of a few investors who predicted the catastrophic financial crisis of 2008. Christian Bale, not exactly a low-key performer to begin with, is given Asperger's, a stutter, and a glass eye; Steve Carell's grieving money manager can't help but speak his mind; and Ryan Gosling is apparently the biggest sleaze in finance—an industry already oozing sleaze out of its finely tailored seams. These guys, among others, foresaw the burst of the housing bubble and invested against it—hoping to profit on Wall Street's unrepentant greed. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
Bloodsworth: An Innocent Man
Gregory Bayne's documentary details the intense story of Kirk Bloodsworth, a man fighting to get the death penalty repealed in Maryland. And with good reason: He was falsely convicted within their system, and became the first person in Maryland to be exonerated via DNA evidence. Various Theaters.
Hey, wanna see a sweatsuit-clad gymnast masturbating to her own highlight reel? That's how The Bronze opens, and how you feel about that opening shot is a pretty good indication of how you'll feel about the film as a whole. The Bronze is good old-fashioned shock comedy, set in and around the world of professional gymnastics, helmed by a defiantly unlikeable protagonist who does lots of things that chipper little blonde girls aren't supposed to do—the aforementioned diddling; lines of pain medicine; anonymous drunken sex with strangers; soda that isn't diet. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
With the exception of that time she played an assassin in Hanna, Saoirse Ronan is often confined to roles unworthy of someone who can actually act (see: The Lovely Bones). So it's exciting to see her carry a well-constructed film once again with Brooklyn, an understated study of a young Irish woman caught between her ancestral home in Ireland and 1950s New York. MEGAN BURBANK Various Theaters.
City of Gold
Jonathan Gold is LA's best-known food critic; beloved for taking the city's ethnic cuisines seriously, he was the first food writer to win a Pulitzer. It's difficult to overstate his influence, both on food criticism as a practice and foodie culture as we now know it, with its fervent pursuit of "authenticity." City of Gold is a love letter to Gold—and because Gold is inseparable from his home city, it is also a love letter to Los Angeles. We hop into the cab of his truck and criss-cross the city in search of taco trucks, Ethiopian joints, Burmese food, and the spiciest Thai food in town. We spend some time sitting in traffic, en route to unassuming storefronts tucked into strip malls—restaurants that people who think they hate LA don't even know to look for. ALISON HALLETT Cinema 21.
Drugs! Guns! Fast Cars! Ben Kingsley! Anthony Hopkins! The kid who plays Beast in the new X-Men movies! I'd tell you more, but this thing's been sitting on a shelf for about two years thanks to the studio that bought it going bankrupt! And apparently whoever's actually releasing it couldn't afford to screen it for critics, either! So good luck with all of that, I guess! Various Theaters.
The Dark Horse
Cliff Curtis stars as Genesis Potini, a Maori speed-chess champion who fell on hard times and scrabbled back towards redemption by coaching his nephew's chess club. Various Theaters.
David Bowie Tribute
OMSI's celebration of David Bowie starts with a sing-a-long to "Space Oddity" in the planetarium, and finishes with a sing-a-long screening of Labyrinth at the Empirical Theater. OMSI Empirical Theater.
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.
Discovering Beverly Cleary
A screening of the OPB Art Beat episode dedicated to the life and work of beloved children's author Beverly Cleary. Producers in attendance. Hollywood Theatre.
Eddie the Eagle
An exuberant crowd-pleaser about ski jumper Michael "Eddie" Edwards (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.
Embrace of the Serpent
Based on true events, Serpent splices together two parallel timelines, each featuring Karamakate, shaman and lone survivor of his tribe. In his younger iteration, circa 1909, the defiant Karamakate (Nilbio Torres) reluctantly aids ailing German scientist Theodor Koch-Grunberg (Jan Bijvoet) in his quest for a sacred healing plant called yakruna. More than 30 years later, another scientist, Richard Evans Schultes (Brionne Davis), an American, follows Koch-Grunberg's footsteps back to an older Karamakate (Antonio Bolivar), again in search of yakruna. Though symbolically central to the film's climax, Serpent is less about this plant than the dual journeys in search of it, through which we encounter both the immediate and long-term effects of colonial intervention. MARJORIE SKINNER Living Room Theaters.
Eye in the Sky
Eye in the Sky, directed by South Africa's Gavin Hood, offers an insider point of view on drone warfare—theoretically, at least. Hood's suggestion that world leaders might allow a young girl's safety to delay a drone strike operation, putting others at risk, feels like wishful thinking. It's better, then, to appreciate the film as a moral exercise for the viewer rather than a realistic depiction of military deliberation. What would you do if faced with the decision to terminate one innocent life in order to save 100? MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters.
It doesn't matter that Hail, Caesar! barely hangs together. It's too much fun to watch. Joel and Ethan Coen have given us more than their share of bone-chilling noir and ink-black comedy; they've made films that deal with morality and mortality and the divine absurdity of existence. With Hail, Caesar!, they've forgone the brow furrowing and decided to revel in their favorite topic of all—movies. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
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) and who finds 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 Various Theaters.
How to Be Single
Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if the filmmakers focus-grouped my approximate demographic of women and attached sensors to us to see what made our hearts, brains, and nether regions tingle, then checked what we hearted on Tumblr, and then crammed all that shit into one movie with a crowd-pleasing soundtrack. Is this a cheap grab at our base emotions? Yes. Is it effective? Abso-fucking-lutely. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
I Saw the Light
See review, this issue. Various Theaters.
Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective
Part of the Collective Eye film series, exploring the human footprint on the environment, and the possibilities of permaculture as a solution. Hollywood Theatre.
Marguerite is a punch in the heart for an art critic, because it's about a talentless French socialite (Catherine Frot) who longs to be an opera singer but can't carry a tune. And yet! She's so charismatic—and so brimming with commendable, borderline pathological self-regard—that this imaginary person made me want to retract every real, deservedly bad review I've ever written. I'm sorry, Marguerites of the world. Your art is bad, but not your enthusiasm! With its beautiful framing and artsy core, Marguerite reminded me of nothing so much as high-art freakshow Black Swan. Oh, except I liked this movie better. MEGAN BURBANK Fox Tower 10.
See review, this issue. Cinema 21.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
MBFGW2's painfully dumb and contrived antics will make you roll your eyes until eventually your eyes stop working, and by the time everybody is up dancing in a circle and yelling "OPA!" you might even crack a smile. Because while this movie isn't good, its saccharine heart can't be chewed up and spit out, because it's stuck to your teeth, and you just have to sit there and taste it for as long as it takes to wear off. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
My Golden Days
Much like François Truffaut and his thinly veiled alter ego Antoine Doinel, French filmmaker Arnaud Desplechin is slowly constructing an epic tale about the life and loves of his cinematic stand-in—in this case, anthropologist Paul Dedalus, introduced first in 1996's My Sex Life... or How I Got Into an Argument. Twenty years later, the director has brought the character back in My Golden Days, a prequel that focuses on Paul (played here by newcomer Quentin Dolmaire) as he wrestles with a passionate but fraught relationship with Esther (a luminous Lou Roy-Lecollinet), an equally troubled and brilliant young woman. The heartbreaking and sensual story is sharply defined with the aid of Desplechin's eye and ear for period detail and a script—co-written by the director and Julie Peyr—that understands how attempting to outrun one's emotional immaturity can often leave wreckage in one's wake. ROBERT HAM Fox Tower 10.
Pan's Labyrinth is Guillermo del Toro's masterpiece. Set in post-civil war Spain, Labyrinth follows a young girl, Ofelia (Ivana Baquero); as post-war fascism dominates her world, she discovers an ancient forest presided over by a faun who's at once welcoming and sinister (Doug Jones). Descending into a world of myth, danger, and horror, Ofelia's story becomes twofold—roughly half of Labyrinth deals with historical drama, while the other explores the fantastic and symbolic. Labyrinth is breathtaking: Rich performances, stunning visuals, and an assured tone demonstrate how dear the material is to del Toro. ERIK HENRIKSEN Academy Theater.
This month's installment of the queer-focused series is Stephen Frears' entry into the gay cinema pantheon, My Beautiful Laundrette, about a young Pakistani man in London trying to rehabilitate his uncle's laundromat while reconciling with his ex-boyfriend. Starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Gordon Warnecke. Hollywood Theatre.
Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, and Brian d'Arcy James play the Boston Globe's "spotlight" team of investigative journalists who were tasked with looking into child molestation charges leveled at Boston's beloved Catholic Archdiocese. Translating a highly detailed true story to film could sound like a staged reading of a Wikipedia page, or worse, trivialize the victims' experiences—and Spotlight walks dangerously close to this precipice. However, other than a few hammy moments, this film somehow manages to pull it off. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Force Awakens starts like Star Wars, has a middle like Empire Strikes Back, and ends like Return of the Jedi. It's a best-of Star Wars mixtape. But one doesn't go to the seventh chapter in the most-watched series of all time seeking originality. It's not a question of whether there's a lot of new here (although this is easily the prettiest, most kinetic film in the series), it's a question of whether director J.J. Abrams can do justice to one of cinema's best-loved pop songs. And thanks to stars Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, and the best work from Harrison Ford in decades, Abrams hits the notes he needs to, clearly and strongly. BOBBY ROBERTS Various Theaters.
They Will Have to Kill Us First
See review, this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
See My, What a Busy Week!, this issue. Laurelhurst Theater.
See My, What a Busy Week!, this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
Where to Invade Next
Michael Moore's latest isn't as laser-focused as Bowling for Columbine or Fahrenheit 9/11, which is both a blessing and a curse. The titular "invasion" refers to the sort of quip you might overhear at an NPR fundraising dinner: "What if instead of invading Arab countries to take their oil, we invaded European countries to take their progressive socialism?" Visually, this translates to Moore wandering around Europe with an American flag and interviewing people. His previous films covered a single issue with furious intensity, but Invade is more of a greatest hits album—exploring Iceland's finances, Norway's prisons, Germany's industrial middle class, and a dozen other topics. BEN COLEMAN 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 Century Clackamas Town Center, Hollywood Theatre, Liberty Theatre.
In the alternate universe of Disney's Zootopia, animals have evolved—and have rejected the concept of "predator and prey," instead choosing to co-exist 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, April 1-Thursday, April 7, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.