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.
Alice Through the Looking Glass
See review, this issue. Various Theaters.
The Angry Birds Movie
The only person for whom a critical analysis of The Angry Birds Movie could be useful is your kid, who has already decided, based on the words "angry" and "birds" in the title, that they want to go. But your kid isn't here. Your kid isn't the one hoping for a measured analysis of this film's potential qualities. No, you're here, hoping to God there will be something even mildly interesting you can latch onto, lest the colorful inanity flapping in front of your eyes renders you comatose. Well guess what—there is no God, and your hope is a sad joke next to the might of Angry Birds. Just try to remember, as you slide feet-first into apathy-glazed resignation: You love your children. You love your children. Various Theaters.
Belladonna of Sadness
There are many sad aspects to Eiichi Yamamoto's lush animated psychedelic film from 1973. The first 45 minutes of violent rape imagery spring foremost to mind. The next saddest is when people try to convince you that Belladonna of Sadness is so beautiful—with such a wonderful jazz score by avant-garde composer Masahiko Satô—that you should sit through 45 minutes of violent rape imagery in order to appreciate it. Yes, this film employs a wonderful, unique paper scroll form, and I don't deny its technical merit. But if you must see Belladonna of Sadness to appreciate its exceptional anime-meets-watercolor aesthetic, here's what to do: Watch it for six minutes. Get the hell out of there. Return after 45 minutes for the mostly consensual "sex in the woods with the devil" scenes. Then leave again before they burn her at the stake. SUZETTE SMITH Hollywood Theatre.
A Bigger Splash
The amount of full frontal will no doubt trick some into thinking this is A Very Serious Film. NED LANNAMANN Fox Tower 10.
Boys Don't Cry
Kimberly Peirce's haunting drama about the life and death of Brandon Teena has lost none of its strength since its debut in 1999. BOBBY ROBERTS Fifth Avenue Cinema.
Captain America: Civil War
Captain America: Civil War isn't so much a Captain America movie as the third flick in the Avengers series. While Cap may be the heart and soul of this film, Marvel made sure to cram in as many of their products as humanly possible. But what should've been a 2.5-hour mess is another seemingly inconceivable Marvel miracle: Civil War may be an exploding roll of firecrackers, but it's also a mature meditation on friends, loyalty, and taking responsibility for the individual while serving the greater good. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
Days after the 2016 winner of Cannes' Palme d'Or award was announced (yay, Ken Loach!), the 2015 winner trundles onto a single Portland movie screen. Directed by Jacques Audiard (Rust and Bone, A Prophet), Dheepan is a fascinating story of Sri Lankan refugees reinventing themselves in the slums of Paris. Dheepan, Yalini, and Illayaal don't know each other, but they pose as a family in order to gain political asylum. The housing project where they end up, though, is home to drug dealers and gang members, making their transition to Western life difficult. Dheepan is at its most poignant—and potent—when it explores the psychology of its three transplanted characters within this newly invented family unit, but the film turns silly whenever the slum's supposedly dangerous French gangsters act all menacing. Surely these Sri Lankans confronted far worse things in their battle-strewn home country than a bunch of chain-smokers waving baguettes at them. NED LANNAMANN Living Room Theaters.
The Dirty Dozen
"You know what to do—feed the French and shoot the Germans!" Hollywood Theatre.
Dog Day Afternoon
People tend to knock older films down a peg or two because they didn't "age well," as if it really matters that you can tell when they made it. Rare is the film so strong you easily look past the awkward cultural artifacts encased in its celluloid. Even rarer is Sidney Lumet's day-in-the-life crime classic from 1975, Dog Day Afternoon, a film that somehow only becomes more up-to-date and relevant with every decade tacked onto its age. But even if it was just a dated bit of film history, it would still contain maybe Al Pacino's single best performance, and any opportunity to see John Cazale put in work is an opportunity you should seize. BOBBY ROBERTS Academy Theater.
Elvis & Nixon
You've seen the photo: the King of Rock 'n' Roll and the Leader of the Free World, shaking hands in the Oval Office with cautious smiles and dazed looks in their eyes. Elvis & Nixon is an account—from director Liza Johnson and co-writer Cary Elwes—of that bizarre meeting in 1970. It's a piece of blissfully speculative fiction that takes its small but amusing concept and runs with it. It's hard to go wrong when you cast Michael Shannon as Elvis Presley and Kevin Spacey as Richard M. Nixon. NED LANNAMANN Living Room Theaters.
There's been an increase in sing-a-longs at the theater recently (thanks, Frozen) but the Oregon Ballet Theatre is putting their own twist on the phenomenon with this dance-a-long screening of the '80s classic Footloose. Before the show, dancers will walk the audience through Kevin Bacon's fancy footwork, and then when the film starts rolling, all you gotta do is head to the aisles and cut the Hollywood's rug with all those countryfied white boy moves. Or you could just show up and be a grumpy little Lithgow in the back of the theater, frowning at all these sinful shenanigans. To each their reach. Hollywood Theatre.
The 1956 sci-fi classic starring Leslie Nielsen and Robbie the Robot! Rest in peace, Leslie Nielsen. Burn in hell, Robbie the Robot, you Cylon sack of shit. Hollywood Theatre.
Way before Birdman pretended to do it for the first time and no one issued a corrective, Aleksandur Sokurov made a movie in one continuous shot—Russian Ark, an epic journey through European history filmed entirely inside Russia's Hermitage Museum. It's slow, but satisfyingly full of baroque beauty and strange delights—an entire orchestra! Catherine the Great!—so I'm sad to say that Sokurov's latest, Francofonia, which he somehow got clearance to film inside the Louvre, is even slower than its predecessor, without Russian Ark's appealing visual gambit or its hypnotic charm. Unless you majored in French or art history, I would advise against Francofonia, especially if you're prone to motion sickness: The camera technique used liberally to frame the Louvre's paintings resembles the claustrophobic zoom technique queasily pioneered in Hitchcock's Vertigo. You're better off streaming Russian Ark, and becoming forever insufferable to your friends who love Birdman. Psh, whatever tho, they're wrong. MEGAN BURBANK Cinema 21, Laurelhurst Theater.
Blue Ruin, Jeremy Saulnier's Kickstarter-aided 2013 calling card, fashioned a diabolically inventive revenge movie that repeatedly headed down unpredictably satisfying avenues. The writer/director's larger-budgeted follow-up, Green Room, gathers up that earlier promise and just goes sick with it, taking an intentionally stripped-down premise and jacking it up to ferocious speeds. Inspired by the director's experiences with hardcore punk shows, the story follows an idealist thrash band (led by Alia Shawkat and a terrifically spacy Anton Yelchin) reduced to gas-siphoning between concerts. While spinning aimlessly through the Northwest, they take a gig deep in the Oregon woods at a venue crammed to the rafters with neo-Nazis, fronted by an ominously velvet-voiced Patrick Stewart. Things do not go well, in ways that made a theater full of jaded critics repeatedly suck in their collective breath. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
Last Days in the Desert
You know that internet meme where someone's poor confused grandma has a picture of Ewan McGregor from Attack of the Clones up on her mantle because she thinks the mulleted Scotsman is actually White Jesus? Grandma's not so confused anymore, what with ol' Obi-Wan actually playing White Jesus in Rodrigo Garcia's imagined account of Christ getting tempted in the desert by the Devil—who is also Ben Kenobi! Technically, this is not a Trainspotting prequel, but nothing's stopping you from taking it as such. That's the beauty of fiction (and religion)—you can make it mean whatever you want! Fox Tower 10.
See review, this issue. Cinema 21.
Love & Friendship
See review, this issue. Various Theaters.
Call your mom! That's the sentiment Lorene Scafaria's The Meddler, featuring Susan Sarandon and Rose Byrne as mother and daughter, will leave you with, even if you actively resist it. Let's get this out of the way: I wasn't sold on Sarandon as Marnie, an overbearing widow who moves to Los Angeles seemingly just to interfere with her daughter's life. While I would never question Sarandon's ability to convey emotional intelligence, when she opened her mouth in the film's first scenes, using a thick New York accent, I was like SUSAN SARANDON NO I DON'T BELIEVE YOU. It wasn't convincing—she just seemed like a very beautiful movie star trying to sound common, an affect that will only ever be jarring. By the end of the movie, though, I had forgiven her, because I was a weepy mess (and wanted to call my mom). MEGAN BURBANK Various Theaters.
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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
Don Cheadle's free-form Miles Davis biopic skips over the biggest moments in Davis' life—the ones people going to see a movie about Davis will likely expect to see—and instead offers a narrative that skips back and forth in time, focusing more on establishing Davis as a character rather than as as a historical figure and musical genius. In addition to writing and directing, Cheadle also plays Davis, and from the opening frames ("Don't call my music jazz," he says. "It's social music"), it's clear this is a passion project. Cheadle is in this role, and like the best Cheadle characters, Davis is never anything less than fascinating. Which is where things get tricky: With a whole lot of fictionalized add-ons and unnecessary costars (like Ewan McGregor's imaginary Rolling Stone reporter), Miles Ahead never feels predictable, but it also never feels reliable. ERIK HENRIKSEN Cinema 21, Laurelhurst Theater.
As a director, Jodie Foster has specialized in bringing unconventional scripts to clear-eyed life, with films such as Home for the Holidays and The Beaver achieving a fascinatingly honest messiness. This is not one of those times. Money Monster, Foster's first movie in five years, is a pedantic, largely juiceless misfire of the sort that maybe only really smart people can achieve. While the top-tier cast occasionally starts to get something going, the predictability of the plot's hostage scenario—and the toothlessness of the jokes—keep dragging the film down. Money Monster is a satire about television that feels like it was made by the kind of people who claim they don't watch TV. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising
How much you enjoy Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising depends on how much leeway you give it for having its heart in the right place—even when its brain is slightly addled, and even when it's constrained by the limitations of its format. Neighbors 2 is a hell of an effort, see, to do something meaningful with an inherently soulless vessel—the studio-mandated comedy sequel, in which anything successful gets another chapter, whether it needs one or not. In this case it's Neighbors, which sort of felt like a marketing plan in search of a story to begin with. VINCE MANCINI Various Theaters.
The Nice Guys
In one form or another, Shane Black has been trying to make the comedy noir The Nice Guys since 2001, and now that it's finally here, it doesn't disappoint. The script, by Black and Anthony Bagarozzi, checks off Black's trademarks: There's razor-sharp banter, a Christmas carol or two, and a profound appreciation of the comedic qualities of violence. And in Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, Black's got a duo who are excited to play along. Crowe, growly and shambly and with a trusty set of brass knuckles, pushes through The Nice Guys' twists with wry determination; Gosling, sporting a cast, a dangling cigarette, and a look of constant confusion, reveals a heretofore unknown talent for ultrasonic shrieks and physical comedy. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
The Night of the Hunter
A weird, weird movie from 1955 that's part gothic horror, part religious drama, part plucky children's adventure story, and part musical (boy, do these characters sing a lot). Robert Mitchum commands the screen as a crazy preacher chasing after two kids who are holding a stack of stolen money, chasing them through surreal, Cabinet of Dr. Caligari sets with harsh, spare, angular lighting. This was actor Charles Laughton's only foray into directing; he figured that artifice would be creepier than realism, and the gamble pays off. NED LANNAMANN Laurelhurst Theater.
The Ones Below
This fine little thriller plays like an episode of Black Mirror, but instead of techno mindfuckery we get a polite English riff on Rosemary's Baby with stylish Hitchcockian panache. A couple prepares to have their first baby, and the downstairs neighbors get a little too involved in their life. COURTNEY FERGUSON Kiggins Theatre.
Portland Horror Film Festival
The creators of the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival return with programming that seeks to welcome all kinds of dark and fucked-up independent filmmaking, not just the kind tending to specifically tentacled forms of madness. Hollywood Theatre.
A monthly screening series showcasing films directed by women. This month: a curated program of 14 short films spanning multiple genres, all shot by young female directors. Clinton Street Theater.
(Re)Discoveries: New Restorations, New Prints
See our review of Ran, this issue. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
The nationwide film festival featuring films made by and focused on people with disabilities. Alberta Rose Theatre.
Silent Comedy Special
The silent era springs to life with four shorts starring Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, and Charley Chase, with original scores by Dean Lemire performed live on the organ. Hollywood Theatre.
If you take off your glasses and watch Sing Street out of focus—as a lighthearted teen romcom about following your dreams—you'll love it. The idea of a mousy 15-year-old Irish boy named Cosmo (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) wrangling his equally mousy peers to start a "futurist" new wave band to woo model Raphina (Lucy Boynton) is charming enough. And the mid-'80s soundtrack is pretty good! But you might not love it if you get hung up on half-baked, passing mentions of alcoholism, divorce, and domestic violence that come out of nowhere, thrown into the narrative like poop Frisbees at a picnic. CIARA DOLAN Various Theaters.
In this installment of the Hollywood's music documentary series, Duff McKagan gets to tell the story of how being in Guns N' Roses nearly got his skinny ass killed in It's So Easy and Other Lies. Hollywood Theatre.
Erstwhile punky supermodel Agyness Deyn is almost unrecognizable as Chris Guthrie, a young woman living in a hard life in rural Scotland during the early 20th Century. Based on a revered Scottish novel by Lewis Grassic Gibbon, director Terence Davies' Sunset Song contains just as much of its country's mud and violence as its gushing nutrients, and we watch the stoic Guthrie grow stronger with each hard-won battle. Deyn's performance is crucial, and she delivers fantastically in a role with difficult dialogue and subject matter—I had no idea that she'd even traded in modeling for acting, but one could have scarcely wished for a more impressive debut. MARJORIE SKINNER Fox Tower 10.
Tale of Tales
On paper, Tale of Tales has more than enough to recommend it: John C. Reilly killing a napping sea dragon. Salma Hayek eating the dragon's bloody heart in order to impregnate herself. Toby Jones petting a dog-sized flea that he's been nurturing since it was a flea-sized flea. Vincent Cassel pitching woo to a pair of elderly sisters who stitch and flay themselves in order to look younger. Albino twins communicating with each other via a wellspring that bursts forth from the roots of a tree. A murderous ogre chasing a princess across a tightrope. Unfortunately, the narrative is fractured across three unrelated stories (a framing technique that implies the primary characters are part of the same royal family is merely confusing), and the film, while stunning to look at, feels inert, like a series of stills. NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre, Living Room Theaters.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
Wyrd War presents this one-night-only screening of Tobe Hooper's macabre-yet-silly sequel in 35mm, with star Bill Moseley in attendance to tell stories of the shoot. And there's going to be stories—Dennis Hopper was in this movie. Hollywood Theatre.
Mississippi Records presents a rare 35mm screening of David Byrne's weird-as-hell (of course it is) directorial debut, starring John Goodman and Spalding Gray. Hollywood Theatre.
Viva creeps up with a surprising degree of weight, beginning as the origin story of a newly initiated drag performer, Jesus (Héctor Medina)—stage name Viva. But things change when his deadbeat dad (Jorge Perugorría) appears, fresh out of prison and with a seeming determination to drink himself to death in Jesus' apartment. While there are some delicious drag performances front- and rear-loaded in the film, there's also a long stretch of nothing but father-son drama—on top of the constant vibes of economic and sexual desperation—without a single relieving musical number. Nonetheless, Viva feels authentic and inspired, a wholly original portrait of a character who's more interesting than most. MARJORIE SKINNER Fox Tower 10.
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.
See review, this issue. Various Theaters.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, May 27-Thursday, June 2, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.