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.
Action, Anarchy, and Audacity: A Seijun Suzuki Retrospective
Emphasizing visual style and mood, maverick director Seijun Suzuki dispenses with the expected formalities of film grammar and tosses narrative along the wayside whenever he sees fit, jettisoning continuity, character, and genre conventions with it. A touring collection of Suzuki's work passes through the NW Film Center for the month of April, and the bracing, elusive films bleed with the Japanese director's strikingly surreal style. NED LANNAMANN NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
The Adderall Diaries
I have a pretty low threshold for suffering fools, so I was prepared to Statler and Waldorf my way through The Adderall Diaries, starring narcissist writer James Franco as narcissist writer Stephen Elliott. The trailer makes it look like the latest entry into the worthless cinematic subgenre dedicated to privileged white-guy ennui, with signature Chemex product placement and low-stakes tales of woe. I must be losing my edge, though, because I genuinely enjoyed it! What begins as the usual Crybaby in Your MFA circlejerk transforms into an inventively structured meditation on the unreliability of memory—one that's livened up by appearances from Cynthia Nixon as Elliott's editor, and an unrecognizable Christian Slater playing a probable murderer. Elliott himself has publicly disavowed The Adderall Diaries; this, too, should be taken as the recommendation it is. MEGAN BURBANK On Demand.
April and the Extraordinary World
Animated films aimed at children have such a long history of corniness that I barely second guessed April and the Extraordinary World's most beloved character, a talking cat, for his continual nagging on April's love life. (Oh, yes—between jumping through huge, menacing clockwork machinery and trying to find your scientist parents abducted by a lightning cloud, it's important to keep yourself out there.) That said, this movie is so charming that even my feminist reservations couldn't keep me from having a ton of fun. Based on a graphic novel by Jacques Tardi, this English dub doesn't have Marion Cotillard voicing April (that's the French version, alas) but it DOES have Susan Sarandon as a sentient lizard in a robot body! And a chauvinist talking cat is still a talking cat. I'll take it! SUZETTE SMITH Fox Tower 10.
Barbershop: The Next Cut
See review, this issue. Various Theaters.
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.
Born to Be Blue
"We weren't interested in the specific detail of what exactly happened or what didn't happen," director Robert Budreau said to the Globe and Mail of Born to Be Blue, his biopic of famed and troubled jazz trumpeter Chet Baker. That's not the kind of disclaimer you generally want to hear about a film based on a real person, but it's necessary to keep in mind before viewing this well-intentioned, well-made effort. ROBERT HAM Living Room Theaters, On Demand.
While the plot is your basic paint-by-numbers remake of Uncle Buck, Melissa McCarthy turns on the focus, cranks up the pratfalls, and reminds you once again that she really knows what she's doing. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY 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, in 2007. 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.
See review, this issue. Various Theaters.
Davis' wife dies in the first few minutes of Demolition, and then Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal) starts being an asshole. No, wait—he's kind of an asshole before that. In the few moments we see them together, Davis is blowing off his wife and being a smarmy, self-absorbed investment banker. Then—BOOM, CAR CRASH—Davis is a single smarmy, self-absorbed investment banker, one who's remarkably unmoved by the death of... huh. You know, she probably had a name, but that's not important. What's important is that she looks good in all of Demolition's dead wife montages. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Everybody Wants Some!!
Most movies get male athlete group dynamics so wrong that when you actually find kernels of relatability, it feels like a revelation. In Everybody Wants Some!!, Richard Linklater's take on hazing ("everybody is going to be the chump at some point, it's how you handle your turn that defines you") is refreshingly unsensational. As is the movie as a whole. You know how in Magic Mike you kept expecting one of the characters to OD on drugs or get paralyzed in a car accident in order to teach everyone a valuable lesson? Then it never happens and you're happy to have avoided the moralizing? Everybody Wants Some!! is like that. It's about college, not learning. VINCE MANCINI Various 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.
Stan Winston, Rob Bottin, Tom Savini—these names are rightly referenced when people talk about the greatest visual effects artists in film history. But Chris Walas absolutely deserves his place among those legends, if only for the amazing work he put in on David Cronenberg's The Fly. Granted, Jeff Goldblum's haunting performance is pulling a lot of weight, but there is a point in this still horrifying, stomach-churning, 30-year-old masterpiece where you will feel sorry for the rampaging, murderous Brundlefly. That's Chris Walas at work, and it's something to behold. Well, that and the part where the fingernails just pop right off and glurt gooey stuff all over the mirror. Chris Walas in attendance. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
They shot it with a GoPro. They shot it in first person. They're telling the story of an almost dead man turned into an amnesiac cybernetic super-soldier with who wants to save his wife. You may be thinking "So it's a really blatant RoboCop riff, but it's also a video game, but I also can't play it?" We'd love to answer that, but they didn't screen it for critics, so you'll just have to find out for yourself whether this is the best YouTube Let's Play ever made. 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.
I Am Thalente
In Natalie Johns' gorgeous documentary, Thalente (pronounced "Talent") Biyela is a homeless skateboarding prodigy stuck in Durban, South Africa with seemingly no way out. But thanks to various friends and boosts from boarding legends Tony Hawk and Kenny Anderson, Thalente makes it to America—but the story doesn't end there. I Am Thalente is an uplifting reminder that sometimes natural talent isn't enough, and it takes tons of perseverance and help from others to achieve personal greatness. And when Thalente does achieve that greatness? Prepare yourself for skateboarding scenes that are nothing less than sick. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Hollywood Theatre.
If There's a Hell Below
First-time filmmaker Nathan Williams's crowdfunded thriller is reminiscent in tone and location to the famous airplane scene in North by Northwest: You know something terrible is going to happen, but you have to wait for it to go down. In this case, it's the eventual capture of a Snowden-like government agent (Carol Roscoe) and a novice investigative journalist (Conner Marx). As she attempts to spill her guts to her young accomplice, they soon realize they're being pursued. That alone is unnerving enough, but as this was filmed in the nearly empty landscape around Tri-Cities, WA, you have no choice but to watch this SUV track them down. Even with the occasional stumbling allegory told by characters in the film, Hell is a fine first step for Williams as he shows off a smart use of natural sound and pacing. Director in attendance. ROBERT HAM NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
See review, this issue. Laurelhurst Theater, On Demand.
Jazz, Sex, and War Cartoons
Another aptly-named 16mm film festival from local film historian Dennis Nyback, featuring bawdy, risque, and morally questionable cartoons from the '30s and '40s. Hollywood Theatre.
The Jungle Book
See review, this issue. Various Theaters.
Marinoni: Fire in the Frame
Tony Girardin's documentary about the champion cyclist, his transition from riding bikes to making them, and his battle back from a life-threatening illness. Director in attendance. Hollywood Theatre.
The latest from Jeff Nichols (Mud, Take Shelter)continues the director's winning streak. While on its surface an affectionate throwback to the kid-friendly sci-fi adventures of yesteryear, its underlying themes of families under pressure make it very much of a piece with the filmmaker's other work. Told with a bare minimum of backstory, Nichols' script follows two armed men (Michael Shannon and Joel Edgerton) on the run with an eight-year-old boy (Jaeden Lieberher), pursued by both a scarily determined religious cult and a baffled cadre of government agents. While a geeky NSA agent (Adam Driver) attempts to plot the trio's next move, an increasing number of mysterious events hint that the boy, well, just ain't quite right. There's the way his eyes tend to glow in the middle of the night, for one thing. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
No Country for Old Men
This movie is more than a cattle gun and a coin flip. It's more than Javier Bardem's dull, empty stare penetrating your soul from under his fucking ridiculous haircut. It's more than Tommy Lee Jones and his collection of crags growing more and more disillusioned as time passes him by. No Country is the Coen's magnum opus: everything that's ever made them remarkable filmmakers, remarkably condensed into a single film's worth of breathtaking cinematography and impeccable performances, all in service of a Cormac McCarthy story so perfectly representative of their ethos it's like he wrote it specifically for them. BOBBY ROBERTS Academy Theater.
Ross Lipman of the UCLA Film & Television Archive directs this documentary about the making of Samuel Beckett's only film credit, an avant-garde short made in collaboration with Buster Keaton called FILM. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
A monthly series "showing vintage and contemporary films that are obscure, neglected, and from the fringe." This month: Frankie Latina's Modus Operandi, a combination spy film and crime opus, made in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, shot on Super 8, and starring Danny Trejo. Hollywood Theatre.
Sing-Along Sound of Music
The cords of your throat are alive with the sounds that echo off the walls of the theater you are in where you watch the as hills come alive with the sound of muuuuuussiiiiiiiiiiiic. By the way, this is not recommended for first-time viewers of the film. Or fuck it, maybe it is. Maybe you should show up dressed as Frank N. Furter and continually shout "That's not how this is supposed to go at all!" every time someone breaks into song and it's not the Time Warp again. (Don't actually do this.)Cinema 21.
The music documentary series continues with a screening of Mad Tiger, the story of what happened when the two lifelong friends who created performance-art punk group Peelander Z broke up after 15 years of weird. Hollywood Theatre.
In 1973, William Friedkin made an unlikely blockbuster called The Exorcist, a low-key family drama about a single mother, her daughter, and a really bad case of acid reflux. In 1977, he followed that up with the thrice-as-ambitious Sorcerer, an adaptation of Georges Arnaud's The Wages of Fear. The film was supposed to have blown up like a truck full of nitroglycerin. Instead it was snuffed out at the box office by a small-scale indie flick for kids called Star Wars. As time moved on, people began to rediscover his paranoid, sweaty little outcast epic, which now, almost 40 years later, enjoys the reputation it originally deserved as one of the last (and best) examples of the '70s New Hollywood movement. BOBBY ROBERTS Laurelhurst Theater.
How many '80s kids thought it was cool to surf on the top of a slowly moving van because of this movie, huh? How many of 'em ate power lines and tree branches for their efforts? How many of 'em tried growling "Give me a keg of beer" at their local liquor clerk because this film misled them as to how that transaction would play out? And how many adventurous teens flopped their schvantze out at a basketball game just because they saw it in Teen Wolf? Just how many beer-bellied werewolf point guards are kicking around your local YMCA nursing broken dreams of NBA stardom because Teen Wolf told them they could make it if they just wolfed out hard enough? It's not true. None of it is true. Teen Wolf is the irresponsible hairy lie of the '80s. Hollywood Theatre.
Frederick Wiseman's first film is also his most impactful, as his 1967 documentary about the mistreatment of patients at massachusetts' Bridgewater State Hospital led to social changes on a national level. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Following the success of Pulp Fiction in 1994, there was a spate of Tarantino knockoffs, each mashed together from low budgets, overwrought dialogue, wacky characters, and interwoven stories. Twenty years too late for that trend comes Too Late, which has a few great things going for it (it stars John Hawkes! it was shot on 35mm! it's only playing in 35mm!) and not much else. Writer/director Dennis Hauck's reverence for old-school film runs deep, with scenes set in drive-ins and each 20-minute segment of Too Late consisting of a single shot (for those keeping track, 20 minutes is about how long it takes a 35mm reel to run through a projector). Gimmicks aside, the slack story finds a private eye (Hawkes) stalking and stumbling his way through LA, doing his best to make sense of both a far-fetched plot and clunky monologues. Hawkes remains as watchable as ever; everything else underwhelms. Director in attendance on Sat April 16 at 6:45 pm. ERIK HENRIKSEN Hollywood Theatre.
A Tribute to Andy Kaufman
Mississippi Records presents this curated collection of Kaufman's best TV appearances, as well as live performances from some special guests and some of Kaufman's favorite cartoons. Hollywood Theatre.
Where to Invade Next
Michael Moore's latest isn't as laser-focused as something like 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 Laurelhurst Theater.
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.
!Women Art Revolution
A doc focusing on the history of the feminist art movement, which began in the 1960s as a response to a white male-dominated art world, and continues today... in response to a white male-dominated art world. Filmmaker Lynn Hershman-Leeson (herself an artist involved in the movement) covers a lot of artists over a lot of years—in fact, so many women are interviewed here, at various points during their careers, that it's nearly impossible to keep track of who's who. But the interviews themselves are fascinating, and the archival images and footage Hershman-Leeson showcases remain vibrant, provocative, and challenging. It's a surface-level exploration of an enormous subject; here's hoping it inspires future filmmakers to take a deeper look. ALISON HALLETT NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Lucía Puenzo's excellent film does something really impressive: It makes a very specific and unusual circumstance into a coming-of-age story that's both accessible and universally relevant. XXY is about a hermaphrodite, sure, but it's also about a person struggling to figure out where she fits into the world—and if, or why, she must change herself to find her place. ALISON HALLETT Fifth Avenue Cinema.
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. 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 15-Thursday, April 21, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.