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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
Alice Through the Looking Glass
An unholy concoction of Lewis Carroll's brilliant nonsense shoehorned into every ass-backward cliché from every cut-rate screenplay-writing night-school class in Los Angeles County. There are moments when the outrageousness and visual cacophony almost push this sequel to Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland into fits of surreal inspiration. But the horrible storyline—centered on a deeply stupid MacGuffin in the form of time-travel machine called the Chronosphere—and profoundly awful performances from Johnny Depp and Anne Hathaway make this a tough sit. NED LANNAMANN 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.
Your monthly opportunity to literally check off a bingo card full of B-movie clichés. This month's entry: Firepower, a sweaty slab of beefy-cheesy sci-fi dystopia from 1993 starring straight-to-VHS stalwarts Gary Daniels and Chad McQueen, with more than a little help from Jim Hellwig, better known by his professional wrestling nom-de-plume, the Ultimate Warrior. Hollywood Theatre.
Belladonna of Sadness
There are many sad aspects to Eiichi Yamamoto's lush 1973 animated psychedelic film. The first 45 minutes of violent rape imagery springs foremost to mind. The next saddest is when people try to convince you that Belladonna of Sadness is so beautiful—with such a wonderful score by avant-garde jazz 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.
Cult films don't get much cultier—or appeal to a wider audience—than the David Lynch masterpiece Blue Velvet. In this ass-clenching exploration of the filthy underbelly of Reagan-era suburbia, a Hardy Boy-esque Kyle MacLachlan discovers a severed ear and tumbles headlong into a mystery that turns darker and uglier by the second. An emotionally broken femme fatale, a gas-huffing sexual sadist/crime boss (who loves Pabst Blue Ribbon, by the way), freakish dandy Dean Stockwell, icky visuals of bugs and the robins that eat them, and a sweet-as-pie Laura Dern as the embodiment of true (HA!) love make this flick just as fun as when it first blew your mind way back in 1986. Good times! WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Hollywood Theatre.
Bonnie and Clyde
There was a whole lotta pearls being clutched and vapors getting caught when Arthur Penn's genre-defying tale of true crime hit screens in 1967. For example: the notion that people don't just grimace and fall over when they get shot? That notion bled out all over the pavement in glurting red jets by the end of this film. The (now pretty commonplace) idea that violent assholes could be hilarious, sympathetic, horrific, and romantic all at the same time? That basically started right here, too. Also beginning right here: The careers of Gene Hackman and Gene Wilder, and—for all intents and purposes—the golden age of 1970s American Cinema. BOBBY ROBERTS Laurelhurst Theater.
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.
Down by Law
The Academy closes out their month of noir with this 1986 cult classic, which is less noir than it is black-and-white jailhouse fantasy carried by the ingratiating performances of Tom Waits, John Lurie, and Roberto Benigni. Sure, there's a story here (kind of) but this is quintessential Jarmusch—you're not really here for that. You're here to soak in the the atmosphere, the scenery, and dialogue pouring out of characters effortlessly radiating pure cool at a level only Jarmusch seems equipped to capture on film. BOBBY ROBERTS Academy Theater.
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 though, they're wrong. MEGAN BURBANK 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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
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.
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.
L'attesa (The Wait)
Beautiful, young, French Jeanne (Lou de Laâge) visits her boyfriend at his family's palazzo in Sicily. Absurdly, his beautiful, old, French mom (Juliette Binoche) neglects to tell the poor girl that he died just before she arrived. A very awkward weekend ensues. L'Attesa's ridiculous plot device—better suited for farce than this drowsy, artsy-fart meditation on grief—gets stretched to breaking point by director Piero Messina, who's more interested in imagery and religious subtext than in making his ridiculous characters believable or beefing up his flimsy plot. It all looks exquisite, though. NED LANNAMANN Fox Tower 10.
Here's the thing about The Lobster, the thing that'll either make you want to see it or never see it: It captures what it feels like to be single. And not just that—it captures what it feels like to be single in a society obsessed with everyone having someone. That's not a particularly fun thing to address, but it's not particularly awful, either, so The Lobster splits the difference: surreal and heartfelt, it's both laugh-out-loud funny and eerily melancholy. One minute, characters are wondering if they'll ever find a partner; the next, they're deciding which animal they'll turn into if they end up single. Oh, right—that's the other thing about The Lobster, in which singles visit an austere resort, where, hopefully, they'll find someone to spend the rest of their lives with. But if they don't? Then they turn into an animal. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
The Lost Boys of Portlandia
Outside the Frame premieres their short documentary about homeless youth working through their options for returning to mainstream society—if they decide to return at all. Filmmakers in attendance. Revolution Hall.
Love & Friendship
It's a little rude to betray the wishes of an author who kept certain books out of public view. Still, examining early, inferior, or neglected manuscripts can enable a richer understanding of the author's work. So in a sense, director Whit Stillman's unearthing of a very young Jane Austen's unpublished novella from the late 1700s, Lady Susan—which, in film form, has been retitled Love & Friendship—is perfectly justifiable. But don't get too excited. MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters.
Me Before You
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.
As a director, Jodie Foster has specialized in bringing unconventional scripts to clear-eyed life, with films like 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 Living Room 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.
North South East West
A showcase of 11 short films spanning the 20 years-long career of Northwest director (and founder of the Oregon Department of Kick Ass) Vanessa Renwick. Director in attendance. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
See review, this issue. Various Theaters.
Portland Horror Film Festival
See Film, this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
Presenting Princess Shaw
See review, this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
This month's installment of the Hollywood's queer-focused series is Margarita with a Straw, a story about a disabled young woman's sexual awakening, written and directed by Shonali Bose. Hollywood Theatre.
Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made
A documentary about the numerous trials and tribulations that occurred behind the scenes of Chris Strompolos' and Eric Zala's shot-for-shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark, a filmmaking journey that started at age 11 and continued for the next 30 years. Also see My, What a Busy Week!, pg. 35 Hollywood Theatre.
River of Fundament
See review, this issue. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
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.
Erstwhile punky supermodel Agyness Deyn is almost unrecognizable as Chris Guthrie, a young woman living 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 Living Room Theaters.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
See review, this issue. Various Theaters.
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.
Wendy and Lucy
Wendy and Lucy is not easy to watch. Our protagonist Wendy (Michelle Williams) is waylaid on her journey from Indiana to Alaska. Supremely under-funded, all Wendy has is a crappy Honda Accord, a small pile of quickly dwindling dollar bills, and her dog, Lucy. Director Kelly Reichardt's film could almost be called unkind as it slowly drags the viewer through the tedious realism of Wendy's worsening situation: her car breaks down, she gets busted shoplifting, and most anxiety-producing of all, Lucy goes missing. So we shift uncomfortably in our seats as we're made privy to the harsh lights of gas station bathrooms where Wendy gives herself bum-baths, long, cold, merciless shots of lost and orphaned dogs at the pound, and the furrow of Wendy's brow as she balances pragmatism and panic in the face of mounting car expenses. MARJORIE SKINNER Fifth Avenue Cinema.
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 well-reasoned endorsement from an organization known as the Satanic Temple. ANDREW WRIGHT Laurelhurst Theater.
We're now going on the ninth X-movie, and Bryan Singer's X-Men: Apocalypse hits the reset button yet again—and finally lets in the color and the humor of today's other, better superhero films, at long last allowing its characters to more closely resemble their comics counterparts. Apocalypse is easily the most "X-Men!" of all the X-Men movies. Unfortunately, Apocalypse is also a goofy, sloppy mess that has more in common with Singer's poorly regarded Superman Returns than anything else. BOBBY ROBERTS Various Theaters.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, June 3-Thursday, June 9, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.