The Hollywood Theatre's 70mm Extravaganza wraps up this weekend—and they're doing so with two classics on gorgeous 70mm. First up is the 1961 musical West Side Story (it's Romeo and Juliet with gangs! Dancing, snapping gangs!), and then there's James Cameron's 1986 action-horror epic Aliens (it's Vietnam with aliens! Acid-bleeding, chest-bursting aliens!). One of these films offers singing. The other offers screaming. Both are must-sees. ERIK HENRIKSENHollywood Theatre.
Bette & Joan
Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were two of the biggest stars in old Hollywood's studio system, a stardom gained through talent, timing, and a willingness to fight for the respect they absolutely deserved. Most times they were fighting the institutional sexism of the system itself, but sometimes the two titans would take big swipes at each other. NW Film Center pays tribute to these legends with an expansive collection of films featuring Crawford and Davis at their over-the-top, melodramatic best—or worst, depending on your point of view. Vist nwfilm.org for a full list of titles and showtimes. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Steven Spielberg has once again tapped that particular vein of childhood logic where strange things are to be explored and experienced rather than feared. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
The Conjuring 2
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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
The Day of the Jackal
The 1979 thriller. Not to be confused with the 1997 remake The Jackal, in which Bruce Willis shoots Jack Black's arm off. Laurelhurst Theater.
Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
"My girlfriend still doesn't know why her sweaters are always stretched out." NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
1993's Last Action Hero came from a top-notch action director (John McTiernan), a top-notch action screenwriter (Shane Black), and a top-notch action hero (Arnold Schwarzenegger). It was meant to be a top-notch, meta riff on the very kind of big-budget blockbuster that it was itself aiming to be. And yet. Both too clever and too stupid for its own good, it did not succeed. Tonight, its corpse is offered to the cold, angry gods of Hecklevision, and it shall be splayed upon the altar of the silver screen, joined by the audiences' cruelest text-messaged remarks. Godspeed, Last Action Hero. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
Here Come the Videofreex
Through the late '60s and '70s, the Videofreex were a New York-based collective that embraced the utopian possibilities of inexpensive, easy-to-use video technology, using it to become an amateur news organization and set up one of the first public access TV stations in the country. Directors Jon Nealon and Jenny Raskin evoke that same spirit in their loosely constructed documentary about the group, leaving out a fair amount of context and structure along the way. But what makes this film compelling is the historic nature of the period footage threaded throughout. Through the lens of the Freex, we bear witness to Woodstock from the perspective of fans and the grunts trying to keep the music fest together, interviews with Abbie Hoffman and assassinated Black Panther Fred Hampton, and the volatile period when the civil rights, feminist, and anti-war movements both coexisted and collided. ROBERT HAM NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
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 Cinema 21, Cinemagic, Kiggins Theatre.
The Lost World of Industrial Musicals
See Film, this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
One thing that's nice about 2016 is that there are some good-faith attempts to treat women like fully formed humans in film and on television. It's a better time for representation, but it's still not a great time. For example: Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, in which chronically terrible brothers Mike (Adam Devine) and Dave (Zac Efron) are at risk of Mike-and-Dave-ing their sister's upcoming nuptials in Hawaii. Their family's solution? They must bring dates—like adult women—to be their babysitters. OKAY. HOW DUMB AND ARCHAIC OF A SOLUTION IS THAT?!? ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
The Muppet Movie
The perfect mix of easy-going wit, guileless charm, and great songwriting elevate 1979's The Muppet Movie to that rare plane of kid flicks that are also cinematic masterpieces. While the Muppets franchise maintains a loose canon at best—Kermit and Fozzie are "twin brothers" in 1981 sequel The Great Muppet Caper, for example—The Muppet Movie is the universe's meta origin story, explaining with its own internal logic how Kermit, Gonzo, Fozzie and Miss Piggy went from idle dreamers to Hollywood's top sensations. Every scene is memorable, every effervescent line of dialogue is eminently quotable ("A bear in his natural habitat—a Studebaker!") and every star cameo is perfectly placed (who could forget Mel Brooks as crazed scientist Max Krassman?) There have been a lot of Muppet movies—some great (Muppets Take Manhattan; the 2011 reboot), and some abhorrent (the Wizard of Oz adaption starring Ashanti), but none have come close to surpassing the original. MORGAN TROPER Academy Theater.
NW Tracking Farm Edition: Industry and Animal Husbandry
A three-night series of films from the Northwest and the west about "regional farming industries and the bonds between humans and animals." Films include Jan Haaken's Milk Men, Kathy Kasic's Loose Horses, and Christopher LaMarca's Boone. More at nwfilm.org. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
One Day Pina Asked
When Belgian director Chantal Akerman died last year, she left behind a huge, historically significant body of work, notable for mining the rich inner lives of women while soundly rejecting the confines of traditional filmmaking. In One Day Pina Asked, Akerman follows choreographer Pina Bausch and her dance company as they spend five weeks performing physically demanding choreography. The result is an unsettling combination of exuberance and despair that's occasionally painful to watch. But the intimate moments Akerman catches of the dancers offstage—layering on makeup, filling dead time, smoking cigarettes and sipping tea out of good china, dousing themselves in hairspray, and generally acting like they aren't being filmed—coalesce into a beautiful keyhole portrait of their idiosyncratic, itinerant lives. MEGAN BURBANK NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Wim Wender's 1984 film, screening on the occasion of star Harry Dean Stanton's 90th birthday. Hollywood Theatre.
"Edwina's insides were a rocky place where my seed could find no purchase." Screens outdoors as part of the NW Film Center's Top Down: Rooftop Cinema series. Hotel deLuxe.
A monthly series "showing vintage and contemporary films that are obscure, neglected, and from the fringe." This month: Death Race 2000. Hollywood Theatre.
The Secret Life of Pets
DID YOU KNOW: The full trailer for Universal's latest family film was the first movie advertisement to feature an animated rabbit blowing a tiny hailstorm of pelleted shit from its fuzzy hindquarters to the freshly befouled floor? So far as potential replacements for the record scratch cliché goes, it has its charms. There's also a whole movie from which this landmark moment was dislodged, but we did not review it: Once you've seen Kevin Hart as a rabbit literally defecating all over a theater screen, no further critical assessment is necessary. Either you (and your kids) are into that sort of thing, or you're not. Various Theaters.
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. (Okay, you've seen the trailer, it's a huge freaking shark.) ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
Swiss Army Man
If you want your dreams to be weird for the rest of your life, see Swiss Army Man, directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, and starring Daniel Radcliffe and Paul Dano. Radcliffe, working hard to quash your beloved associations of Harry Potter, portrays a farting corpse—a farting corpse that serves as a companion, prop, and man Friday to Dano's very sad young bearded man. The exploits that follow are distasteful enough that I fully anticipate theater walkouts, but I'm glad I was trapped by professional obligation—because if I'd walked out, I would have missed one of the most touching love stories I've seen onscreen in recent memory. I wish I could explain this—how a movie that is in many ways unwatchable becomes so ineffably heartwarming—but I can't. MEGAN BURBANK Various Theaters.
As Tickled begins, co-director David Farrier introduces himself as an offbeat reporter who's found his next "wacky" story—a video of young men in Adidas gear stoically eliciting giggles from an unlucky but ebullient athlete on a wrestling mat. But when Farrier reaches out to Jane O'Brien Media—the creators of the video—he's hit with crass emails, threatened with lawsuits, and told, in no uncertain terms, to stop digging. When Farrier deadpans, "This tickling wormhole was getting deeper," it's hard to tell if he's joking. But as the film progresses, it becomes clear that tickling videos are (sorry) no laughing matter. By the end of the film, Farrier's revelation that "This tickling empire is way bigger than we ever imagined" might chill your soul. KJERSTIN JOHNSON Hollywood Theatre, Living Room Theaters.
It's possible that if you don't live in New York City or follow politics, the first time you heard about Congressman Anthony Weiner was when he sent a picture of his package over his public Twitter account. It was May 27, 2011, the day the headlines wrote themselves. Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg's documentary Weiner picks up with this moment firmly acknowledged. It's 2013, post-Bulgegate, and Weiner's putting the past behind him and running for mayor of New York City. But just as his campaign is picking up steam, a crop of new explicit images and exchanges surface, putting his comeback in jeopardy. I remember what happened next, and you probably do, too. Weiner unfolds just like you remember: the headlines, the late-night jokes, the doomed campaign. There's no new information to exonerate or condemn, just a replay of the inevitable fallout. KJERSTIN JOHNSON Laurelhurst Theater.
See review this issue. Living Room Theaters.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, July 15-Thursday, July 21, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.