2001: A Space Odyssey
Who needs to blow up fireworks this Fourth of July weekend when you can get your whole mind blown instead? No risk of lost fingers when taking a seat under the Hollywood's curved screen as Stanley Kubrick's 1968 classic is projected in 70mm (!), kicking off the Hollywood's July 70mm series (!!) which includes Lawrence of Arabia, West Side Story, and Aliens (!!!). Rumor has it there's going to be a full-size monolith on site. Rumor also has it there will be at least one monkey from the Oregon Zoo to hop around and chatter excitedly in its general direction. (The Hollywood Theatre is not responsible for any physiological and/or psychological changes as a result of getting handsy with said monolith.) BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
Your monthly opportunity to literally check off a bingo card full of B-movie clichés. This month's entry: The Stabilizer, a sweaty collection of fucking weird directorial decisions by the singularly named Arizal, starring a thrift store Rambo looking to save a scientist from the clutches of druglord arch nemesis Greg Rainmaker. I don't know if "consumption of live reptiles" is going to be a square on your bingo card this month, but you should keep your pen at the ready. It's that kind of movie. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
See review, this issue. Various Theaters.
The Conjuring 2
For horror fans accustomed to wandering through acres of dreck for a meager jolt, James Wan is the real deal. The Conjuring 2, the director's return to the horror game after the amiably knuckleheaded Furious 7, is a brilliantly staged, strangely exhausting work of a filmmaker in complete thrall to his chosen genre. This is a movie where virtually every scene is designed expressly for the purpose of causing the viewer's colon to have an out-of-body experience. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
Nobody needed a sequel to Finding Nemo, but Finding Dory is, at least, better than Pixar's so-so original: It's funnier and more emotional, and it's intriguing to watch the antics at a marine life rescue park, which largely serves as Dory's setting. (Post-Blackfish, Pixar is careful to note the captive sea creatures inside are meant to be rehabilitated then released, not to be exploited and degraded for human amusement.) COURTNEY FERGUSON Various Theaters.
It's difficult to describe what happens in director Anna Rose Holmer's The Fits without making it sound deeply ordinary: A little girl in Cincinnati, Toni (an amazing Royalty Hightower), accompanies her brother in his boxing training at a community center, but becomes entranced by the resident all-lady drill team. What follows resembles Shane Carruth's Upstream Color in its privileging of sound and image over any kind of clear-cut narrative, and evokes everything from the catharsis of art to supernatural ideas of demonic possession to the horrific reality of Flint, Michigan's contaminated water to the precarious nature of being a girl whose gender expression isn't normatively feminine. MEGAN BURBANK Living Room Theaters.
Free State of Jones
Gary Ross, writer/director of such sermonizing entertainments as Pleasantville and Seabiscuit, has returned with another didactic drama, Free State of Jones, starring an appropriately unhygienic Matthew McConaughey as Newton Knight, a Mississippi man who rebelled against the Rebels during the Civil War and gathered a small army to fight conscription. (There's also a completely irrelevant subplot, set 85 years later, about Mississippi's legacy of segregation.) Ross' intentions are probably good, whatever they are, but he tries to cram an eight-hour miniseries' worth of material into one overlong movie, resulting in an airless history lesson. ERIC D. SNIDER Various Theaters.
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 Laurelhurst Theater.
Independence Day: Resurgence
Twentieth Century Fox did not screen Independence Day: Resurgence for critics, probably because the film is so good it would annihilate critics' ranking systems. For how does one give a film "five stars" when it deserves all the stars in the universe? How does one offer "two thumbs up" when a more accurate assessment would be to have each person on Earth join together to raise all of our thumbs to the heavens? And how does one rate "10 out of 10" when one knows ∞ is the only numerical concept that could come close to representing Independence Day: Resurgence? ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
The Legend of Tarzan
See review, this issue. Various Theaters.
Here's the thing about The Lobster that'll 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 Neon Demon
Elle Fanning plays Jesse—a 16-year-old model hunted by the various predators of Los Angeles—in the latest from auteur/provocateur/gorehound Nicolas Winding Refn. Refn, for better or worse, is still intent on reminding everyone that he really doesn't want to make another Drive, but while Neon Demon is certainly more tolerable than Only God Forgives, it remains less interesting and surprising than Refn's earlier films—the Pusher trilogy, Valhalla Rising, Bronson, and (yep) Drive. Fanning's good here, but Jena Malone steals the show as her suspiciously friendly makeup artist, while Keanu Reeves and Christina Hendricks creep in the background. But the focus remains on LA's vapid, alien-eyed models—drenched in sex and sleaze, they're willing to do whatever it takes to get one more gig. Depending on the scene, Neon Demon is either creepily surreal or flat-out goofy, but at least it looks gorgeous (Natasha Braier's cinematography jumps between '80s neon and the pastels of Barbie's Dream House), and at least Cliff Martinez's score thrums with electric dread. ERIK HENRIKSEN Cinema 21.
More than enough has been written about how terrifyingly prophetic Sidney Lumet's 1976 satire has turned out to be, but as far as I know, nobody's pointed out that it somehow seems even more relevant than ever in the age of Twitter. ERIK HENRIKSEN Laurelhurst Theater.
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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
This animated documentary is a trail mix of nuts—of both the eccentric and testicular variety. With photos, animation, recordings, and re-enactments, local director Penny Lane (of Almost Famous fame) tells the true story of Dr. John Romulus Brinkley, who cured many men's impotence in the 1920s via goat testicle transplants. He went on to invent junk mail (HA!), popularize country music with his million-watt radio station, run for governor of Kansas, and outfox countless government agencies. In short, he was fascinating, and Lane's smart, charming, multifaceted film does his life justice. COURTNEY FERGUSON Cinema 21.
Our Kind of Traitor
Ewan MacGregor and Naomie Harris are a bit too glamorous to convincingly play a poetics professor and his lawyer wife, but Stellan Skarsgård is great as a Russian gangster who befriends them on their vacation in an attempt to go clean. The camerawork, saturated in unnatural blues and golds, is distracting and diffused, but John le Carré's source book makes for a ripping great story, in which international intrigue is shot through with a surprising amount of heart. NED LANNAMANN Fox Tower 10.
Paying the Price for Peace: The Story of S. Brian Willson
The premiere of Bo Boudart's documentary about the life of a Vietnam veteran whose intentions to call out the U.S. military's thirst for war only grew stronger after he was run over by a military train during a 1987 protest. Clinton Street Theater.
Portland EcoFilm Festival
The environmentally-focused screening series presents Unlocking the Cage, a documentary about animal rights lawyer Steven Wise and his attempts to give animals legal protections. Directors Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker in attendance. Hollywood Theatre.
The Purge: Election Year
While the Purge films have always been tense bursts of ugly violence, I just can’t with this third one. The Purge: Election Year repeatedly puts a diverse cast of people of color in harm’s way, while white privileged people try to gun them down with semi-automatic weapons. Yuck. Where 2013’s original was economical and claustrophobic, and 2014’s The Purge: Anarchy was world-expanding and relevant, his third installment sees franchise director James DeMonaco ramping up the social, religious, and racial tensions, combining an all-too-real dystopian future with cringing levels of election-year frenzy. It’s about as fun as watching the news. Afterward, I had to watch Chicken Run to stave off despair. COURTNEY FERGUSON Various Theaters.
"Forever. For-ever. For-ev-errrr." Academy Theater.
At a time when promising directors are swallowed up by the remorseless blockbuster machine, there's something admirable about a filmmaker like Jaume Collet-Serra (Non-Stop, Run All Night), who's seemingly content to stay a rung or two down on the respectability ladder and continue refining his chops. The Shallows, Collet-Serra's new screamer, may not be his best work—that honor still falls to the wonderfully sick Orphan—but its single-minded devotion to getting viewers to grip their armrests is really something to see, as an erstwhile med student (Blake Lively) heads to a remote beach to catch some solo waves—only to discover that the water isn't as empty as she thought. Clocking in at a lean 86 minutes, The Shallows shows just how bracing and propulsive a good B-movie can be, especially in the hands of a director who knows exactly when to linger on a shot of beautiful scenery—and when to dip the camera below the waterline for maximum unease. It's pulp, but artful pulp. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
The Hollywood's music documentary series presents pays tribute to the talents of renowned documentarian D.A. Pennebaker with a double feature of Don't Look Back, focused on Bob Dylan's transition from folk legend to rock visionary, and Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars: The Movie, capturing David Bowie's final performance as the titular character. D.A. Pennebaker in attendance. Hollywood Theatre.
Swiss Army Man
See review, this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
Critics have been losing their shit over South Korean horror film The Wailing. They love it, like, a lot. Director Na Hong-jin has made an unusually picturesque exorcism film that's super long ("More like The Waiting!" said my movie date), occasionally excruciatingly painful to watch, and full of slapstick, ambling plot twists, and numerous bloody murders (animal lover trigger warning!). For all of these reasons, The Wailing is a critical darling. For most of these same reasons, I couldn't stand it. COURTNEY FERGUSON Fox Tower 10.
Warcraft, a distinctly terrible fantasy movie from director Duncan Jones—who made a great movie once (Moon) and will likely do so again—is way less joyous and far more serious than it should be. Moreover, it leaves far too many important questions unanswered, like how orcs squeeze their gigantic shoulders in and out of their tents, or how they manage to eat soup around those tusks. NED LANNAMANN Azeroth.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, July 1-Thursday, July 7, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.