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 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.
Animation by Design
A series of abstract animated shorts by Oregon and Washington artists, presented as part of Portland Design Week. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Released in 1992 to international acclaim, Baraka compiled a year's worth of footage filmed all over the globe—Eastern religious rituals, time-lapse nature footage, German concentration camps—into a 90-minute "guided meditation on humanity." The resulting film dazzled viewers into a trancelike state that didn't preclude engagement of the brain. The filmmakers artfully assembled their beautiful and terrible images with a deeply poetic flow. And this weekend, the Hollywood's screening it on 70mm. DAVID SCHMADER Hollywood Theatre.
Barbershop: The Next Cut
One could assume that I'm not the target demographic for this movie because I'm white, and Hollywood tells us movies with all-white casts are for everybody, but movies with all-black casts are just for black people. But B:TNC is good for everybody. It's funny, smart, and sincere without being corny. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
The Benefits of Gusbandry
A theatrical "binge-watch" of Alicia J. Rose's comedy webseries, culminating in the premiere of its season finale, with a cast and crew reception following the screening. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Criminal is the answer to a question no one asked: "What if someone took the basic plot of Face/Off and made a dour espionage thriller out of it?" The obvious problem is that Face/Off is not remembered fondly for its plot, as it is a film in which a good man and a bad man switch bodies via super-science and experience life on the other side of the law. No, Face/Off is remembered for its gold-plated hand-cannons, its multi-stage boat chase, and two of the finest hams in cinema history devouring the scenery like those giant machines that dig subway lines. Criminal has none of those things. There isn't a SINGLE boat chase. BEN COLEMAN 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.
Elvis & Nixon
See review this issue. Living Room 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.
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
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 Laurelhurst Theater.
A Hologram for the King
Based on Dave Eggers' 2012 novel, A Hologram for the King is a masterpiece in a genre I didn't think was capable of producing one—namely, the "white guy experiences life in an exotic country and learns life lessons that mainstream mediocrity was unable to provide" genre. Screenwriter/director Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run, Sense8, and Cloud Atlas) is almost preternaturally good at projecting richly textured and inherently believable humanity on the screen, while Tom Hanks slips into his role—a charming but haggard salesman at the nadir of his professional life—in a way that few Hollywood stars would be able to. (It helps that Hanks' character is a fairly decent human being, rather than the typical roiling cauldron of ego and entitlement.) Round that out with an equally charming (and age appropriate) love interest in Sarita Choudhury, and you have a film that finally says something interesting about an old white guy's summer vacation. BEN COLEMAN Fox Tower 10.
The Huntsman: Winter's War
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
The new film directed by Karyn Kusama (Girlfight, Aeon Flux, Jennifer's Body) doesn't kick into decisive action until about 15 minutes before credits roll. When that finally does happen, it's nail-biting, horrific, tragic yet satisfying, and boasts a final, long-delayed twist that colors the preceding bundle of tropes with something unanticipated. But however deftly executed the climax may be, for many the payoff won't be enough to justify the extent of the preamble. MARJORIE SKINNER Laurelhurst Theater, On Demand.
Italian Film Festival
Featuring 10 new films from both new and veteran Italian directors, presented in part by the Associazione Culturale Italiana di Portland. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
The Jungle Book
I'm not convinced remaking The Jungle Book was absolutely necessary, but Disney's latest navel-gazing foray into its own archives delivers everything it needs to: The kid who plays Mowgli is adorable. The digitally animated jungle inhabitants are as warmhearted as they are slick-looking. Do you need more baby animals in your life? The Jungle Book has you covered! You'll squee all the way through as you watch a delightful parade of baby elephants and baby wolves. MEGAN BURBANK Various Theaters.
Tobe Hooper's schlocky space vampire flick from 1985—in 70mm. See My, What a Busy Week! Hollywood Theatre.
Louder Than Bombs
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.
The latest from Jeff Nichols 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 Cinema 21.
See review this issue. Cinema 21, Hollywood Theatre.
The Night Manager
See review this issue. AMC.
North by Northwest
"That wasn't very sporting, using real bullets." Screens in 35mm. Hollywood Theatre.
Punisher: War Zone
Yet another reboot of a superhero movie that didn't work too well the last time (2004's forgotten The Punisher, starring Thomas Jane and John Travolta) or, in this case, the time before that (remember, if you can, 1989's That Crappy Old Punisher Movie that Starred Dolph Lundgren). Someone who made terrible decisions clearly hoped War Zone would prove the third time was the charm (it wasn't), and also decided to cram the film with as much gruesome violence as possible, light it all in cheesy neon, and include dialogue like, "That's no way to punish the Punisher!" and "Let me put you out of my misery!" ERIK HENRIKSEN Fifth Avenue Cinema.
(Re)Discoveries: New Restorations, New Prints
A series of newly restored films. More at nwfilm.org. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Sing-Along Sound of Music
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. Cinema 21.
The Grindhouse Film Festival presents 1980's infamous cinematic oddity (tagline: "DEATH WISH AT 120 DECIBELS"), about an Australian stuntman/pyrotechnics expert who "uses his spare time to lend his expertise to the rock band Sorcery, whose act features duels between the King of the Wizards and the Prince of Darkness." Screens on 35mm, with director Brian Trenchard-Smith in attendance. Hollywood Theatre.
A Super 8 Odyssey: Films of David Domingo
A selection of the "most emblematic work" from Spanish Super 8 filmmaker David Domingo, with Domingo in attendance. More at cinemaproject.org. NXT Industries.
"The Martians love Kuato. They think he's fuckin' George Washington." Laurelhurst Theater.
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 Laurelhurst Theater, Liberty Theatre.
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 Laurelhurst Theater.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, April 22-Thursday, April 28, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.