Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
The film achieves the same high-pitched, broad humor of the series—even though at a scant 90 minutes, Ab Fab: The Movie is straining at the seams. While you may wonder, “Why was this made?” the hilarious presence of Joanna Lumley is reason enough. Her character Patsy is a stroke of comedic genius, and the world is always in dire need of that. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Cinema 21.
Attack the Block
Executive produced by Edgar Wright—the guy behind Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Spaced, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World—first-time director Joe Cornish’s debut is fantastically clever and relentlessly funny. Like all great monster movies, it’s got bit of social commentary slyly poking its head out from the shadows; if you can see past the mangy, jet-black fur and phosphorescent fangs of Attack the Block’s aliens, you’ll find a fair amount to think about. But—again, like all great monster movies—if you’d rather just roll with it, and simply have a better time in a theater than you’ve had in entirely too long? That works too. Part of the Top Down: Rooftop Cinema series. ERIK HENRIKSEN Hotel DeLuxe.
Since Bad Moms is a film about women made by the men who wrote The Hangover, it’s motherhood through bro-colored glasses: Drinking sequences, the word “vagina,” and blunt-force impact are mined for laughs, and just as modern moms are hamstrung by a lack of paid maternity leave and gender double standards, the film’s potential for revenge-flick fun or bawdy escapism is curbed through shallow sentimentality. KJERSTIN JOHNSON Various Theaters.
Band of Outsiders
The French new wave got its name from a store sign (“Nouvelle Vague”) in the background of a scene in this wispy Jean-Luc Godard film from 1964, in which two jerks seduce a girl in order to steal money from a lodger in her aunt’s house. There are some great sequences—the dance scene in the café, for one—but these characters act like spoiled brats, and Godard’s spontaneous direction, once considered innovative, now just seems half-assed. NED LANNAMANN NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
As slow as the first half of The BFG is, Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Melissa Mathison get much more right than wrong, allowing large chunks of Roald Dahl’s world to remain in the realm of mystery, and never over-explicating every strange and wondrous thing on screen. Spielberg seems to have 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.
Nothing about this minor miracle of moviemaking should have worked. Not the half-assed rapper-turned-underwear model as the “hero” of this tale, not the washed-up wax statue of Burt Reynolds rediscovering his own stardom, and definitely not the prospect of spending almost three hours with a Hollywood brat doing Scorsese karaoke while staring into the porn abyss of the ’70s. But that’s the thing about miracles, coke-fueled, cock-obsessed, and manic-depressive as they may be: you get enough angels together (Philip Seymour Hoffman, John C. Reilly, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, Don Cheadle, Alfred Molina, Thomas Jane, whoever that fucking kid with the firecrackers was) and even really unlikely prayers are bound to get answered. BOBBY ROBERTS Clinton Street Theater.
Woody Allen makes movies with the speed and precision of a short-order breakfast cook. Year after year, he churns out pancake after pancake for an undemanding diner crowd. Café Society is the 47th pancake he’s written and directed in roughly as many years. NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre.
Cat in the Brain
A digital restoration of Lucio Fulci’s obscure 1990 serial killer movie about a horror director being stalked by a psychiatrist who slaughters his victims according to scenes from the director’s films. Is Fulci maybe working out a few demons after a couple decades of making some thoroughly heinous shit? Maaaaaaybe. Hollywood Theatre.
Chasing the Wild Boar: Films by Julia Oldham
A celebration of the films by Julia Oldham, a filmmaker who is also an artist who is also a scientist who routinely turns a fascination with math and physics into visually inventive love stories of a unique bent. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
First you have to get over the weirdness of watching porn in a movie theater with a bunch of strangers. Then you have to move past the idea that all porn involves ladies with giant boobs uttering stilted dialogue while being penetrated by enormous dicks. But if you can get over those two things, then maybe CineKink is for you. The New York-based kink-and-sexuality film fest is chockfull of hardcore flicks made not for the furtive-trenchcoat crowd, but for people who want to be loud and proud about diverse types of sex. SARAH MIRK Clinton Street Theater.
The Deer Hunter
Life is unfair. One good example of this fundamental truth is recently deceased director Michael Cimino, whose name tends to summon knee-jerk references to Heaven’s Gate, one of the film industry’s all-time bombs. But the only reason he fell so far was due to dramatic heights he scaled in The Deer Hunter, two and-a-half hours of blunt force post-Vietnam trauma in film form, featuring career highlights from world-class actors such as Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, and Meryl Streep, and the farewell performance of John Cazale. Yeah, everyone knows about the Russian Roulette scene—but there’s so much more to this film than just that sequence. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
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.
I’d hoped this review wouldn’t center on the misogyny of our real world, but unfortunately, the world of Ghostbusters is mired in it too. The film’s badass, ghost-fighting heroes are played by Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones; as these women tackle the supernatural, they’re painted as hysterical by authority figures, then told to let men take credit for their work. They’re even harassed by online commenters—kind of like how Ghostbros thought the 2016 adaptation’s leads couldn’t reprise the roles of the original all-male cast. No doubt this film will cause even more petulant cries from Ghostbros—but for the rest of us, this Ghostbusters is a charming, witty movie about ghost catchers averting the apocalypse. CIARA DOLAN Various Theaters.
Hecklevision: Soul Man
Aww, shit. Fuck. I guess it was bound to happen, eventually, and it's not as if the film doesn't deserve every last bile-drenched, poison-tipped dart shot at it, but the Hecklevision Gods have decided to screen C. Thomas Howell's everlasting shame, Soul Man, in a special collaboration with the Movies in Black and White series this month—and of all the uncomfortable, misguided, unintentional failures that have taken texts to the soft bits on the Hollywood's screen, this blackfaced crime against cinema might be the most cringe-inducing couple of hours you will spend in a theater this year. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party
Right-wing filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza (2016: Obama’s America) “analyzes the history of the Democratic Party and what he thinks are Hillary Clinton’s true motivations.” The Mercury did not review this film because D’Souza and his movies are garbage. Dens of Ignorance. Seriously, It’s Fucking Trash.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
In another director’s hands, this would be a touchy-feely character study about the rehabilitation of a juvenile delinquent, but Taika Waititi’s at work here, taking the absurd, pitch-perfect sense of humor that made What We Do in the Shadows one of the funniest movies of the past few years and applying it to a heartfelt, real-world story. Wilderpeople is a hugely loveable movie that’s suitable for date night or the whole family, and I know that sounds like a hacky movie poster blurb. But when a movie’s this good, it’s tough to avoid clichés, so I’ll leave you with another: Don’t miss it. NED LANNAMANN Cinema 21, Hollywood Theatre.
It may be impossible to completely screw up an undercover cop movie, with the very nature of the premise guaranteeing some vicarious hopscotching over the morality line. Judged on plot alone, The Infiltrator is a solid, mid-level walk on the seedy side, with enough based-on-fact dirty business to hold the interest. When you factor in a terrific-even-for-him lead performance by Bryan Cranston, however, it zooms up the ranks into something well worth leaving the couch for. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
The fifth movie based on the character from Robert Ludlum’s espionage books, and the fourth to star Matt Damon. In between set pieces, there’s an incredibly stupid side plot about a social media platform called Deep Dream (huh?) that’s about to become the most powerful surveillance tool Tommy Lee Jones’ sunken eyes have ever seen. It’s all a bunch of gobbledygook, and Jason Bourne’s goofy-ass plot devices are knotted a bit too tightly. But the action scenes are good, and that’s all you ever really need out of a Bourne movie. Well, that and Matt Damon. Sorry, Jeremy Renner. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
Kung Fu Theater: Eight Diagram Pole Fighter
This month’s installment in Dan Halsted’s ongoing celebration of all things whoop-ass is a super-rare 35mm print of 1984’s Eight Diagram Pole Fighter. It’s one of the genre’s all-time classics, thanks to Gordon Liu’s mesmerizing skills as both an actor and a martial artist, and its story, about (what else) a young man bent on revenge because some power-hungry dickheads kicked his loved ones to death. But it’s not about whether the recipe is original, it’s about cooking it up correctly—and Eight Diagram Pole Fighter contains a brilliant buffet of bone-breaking genius, culminating in one of the single best action scenes ever filmed. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
The Legend of Tarzan
This time around, we begin with Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) as a British aristocrat who’s forced to reconnect with his animalistic past after he travels to the Congo. At its best, The Legend of Tarzan is akin to Steven Spielberg’s goofy Hook, and both movies feature a similar arc—a grown-up protagonist reluctantly returning to the role of hero. But this Tarzan is also one of the slowest blockbusters I’ve ever seen: The first hour of the film consists largely of flashbacks that dumbly assume moviegoers aren’t already familiar with its culturally ubiquitous subject. You’ll see Tarzan reared by his adoptive gorilla family, you’ll see Tarzan develop a relationship with Jane (Margot Robbie), and you’ll see Tarzan do these things over and over again. MORGAN TROPER Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
A steady array of enjoyable oh-shit moments, chock full of opportunities for a murderous ghoul to move in and out of the visible spectrum. If you’re a horror fan, this will get where you want to go. ANDREW WRIGHT 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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
Microbe and Gasoline
With the world seeming like it’s thiiiis close to imploding into chaos, it’s worth considering what art should do: add insight to, or distract from, humanity’s mounting troubles. When the latter impulse calls, Michel Gondry’s latest, Microbe and Gasoline, seems to step out of better times. It may not be all that monumental, but this small, eccentric tale of teenage friendship offers much-needed optimism. MARJORIE SKINNER Fox Tower 10.
The Portland premiere of director Desmond Devenish’s crime drama about an ex-con hunting down his ex-partner’s son, who might be the key to finding the the stolen diamonds that got him locked up in the first place. Director in attendance. Clinton Street Theater.
Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, the directing team behind Catfish, Paranormal Activity 3 and 4, and the teen-oriented cyber-thriller Nerve, know how to affect coolness and currency without seeming to try too hard—a rarity in Hollywood. But all the street cred in the world can’t un-dumb this ludicrous, self-serious dud, which stars Emma Roberts as a timid Staten Island girl who’s peer-pressured into competing in a smartphone game of public dares with Dave Franco (an obvious red flag). Though fitfully engaging and periodically watchable, Nerve can’t overcome its inherent weakness: it’s about idiot kids doing idiot things. ERIC D. SNIDER Fox Tower 10.
If you’ve been to the theater recently, you might have thought you hallucinated a trailer for a kids movie starring Kevin Spacey as a workaholic asshole whose soul is transported into the body of a cat as punishment for neglecting his family. You did not hallucinate that. It’s a real movie. American children will finally find out what it looks like when Frank Underwood takes a fuzzy-assed shit in a tub full of sand. Will kitty K-Pax learn to value his kids, or will Keyser Söze be trapped in a cat for the rest of his life? Fuck you, 2016. Various Theaters.
The Princess Bride
This movie is 100 percent pure charm. That’s not to say Rob Reiner’s adaptation of William Goldman’s bestselling novel isn’t also shot through with moments of real romance (“As you wish”) and cathartic satisfaction (“I want my father back you sonofabitch”) but the reason this movie occupies such a precious place for so many is the charm radiating off its styrofoamy sets, through a score that sounds like it’s coming out of a Casio keyboard’s single built-in-speaker, humming under dialogue written so beautifully that the actors can’t help but smile at the magic flowing out of their mouths. It proves you don’t need $200 million and two years of post-production to realize pure imagination. Not when you’ve got a big heart and all the charm in the world. BOBBY ROBERTS Academy Theater.
Queer Commons: Desert Hearts
This month’s installment of the Hollywood’s queer-focused series is the 1985 drama Desert Hearts, about a New York professor who leaves her husband at the cusp of the 1960s and moves to Reno, where she falls in love with a woman. Hollywood Theatre.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Maybe the most perfectly constructed film in cinema history. Maybe. I’m sure someone out there has an argument on deck, but I’m betting their champion of choice doesn’t include a giant pit of snakes; a fight inside, on top of, and hanging off the front of a truck at 50mph; a holy box that melts Nazi faces like Totino’s Party Pizza; and—most importantly—the presence of peak Harrison Ford in all his sweaty, smirky, silly-yet-sexy glory. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
If Rocky III was the birth of everything cliche about ’80s cinema, its follow up was the zenith (or nadir, depending on your P.O.V.) of that aesthetic. Oft-celebrated (and mocked) for its training montage, Rocky IV isn’t much more than a movie-length montage of montages—a sweaty, preening flurry of disconnected images and barely-there characters alternating between pose and punch as the music dictates. As a Rocky movie, it’s complete shit: Stallone seems almost ashamed of the character by 1985, begrudgingly wearing Balboa’s (taut-and-roided-out) skin to realize his masturbational-yet-jingoistic propaganda fantasy. As an exercise in excess as storytelling tool? It’s fucking fascinating. With Rocky IV, Stallone beat Michael Bay to his entire mode of being by a full decade. BOBBY ROBERTS Laurelhurst Theater.
Sonic Cinema: Breaking a Monster
The Hollywood’s music documentary series presents Breaking a Monster, a year in the life of Unlocking the Truth, a rock trio made of 13 year old Brooklyn kids taking the world of metal by storm. Hollywood Theatre.
Star Trek Beyond
Thanks to Justin Lin’s nimble direction, a pitch-perfect cast, and an adventurous script from Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, Star Trek Beyond nails the fun, goofy tone of the original series—and works so well in its own right that it ends up being one of the best entries in the 50-year-old franchise. It’s smart, too, touching on themes that other blockbusters don’t dare engage with—asymmetrical warfare, isolationism, idealism in the face of cynicism. (In 2016, this stuff feels more than a little topical.) Lin—yet again proving to be one of the sharpest directors working today—keeps Beyond balanced between smarts and spectacle, and also, god bless him, figures out how to shoehorn in a space motorcycle. More than anything else, though, Beyond is fun: a fast-paced, heartfelt, funny blockbuster that promises a bold future for Trek. Plus, it’s the first Star Trek movie that actually gives Bones something to do! Bones! Bones is the best. ERIK HENRIKSEN 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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
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 Living Room Theaters.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, August 5-Thursday, August 11, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.