All That Jazz
A special screening of Bob Fosse’s kinda/sorta autobiography, about a perfectionist choreographer who has to decide whether he wants to live a longer life, or whether he’d prefer to keep making musicals, popping pills, and fucking a steady stream of dancers. Featuring a pre-film presentation from Oregon Ballet Theatre and artistic director Kevin Irving. Hollywood Theatre.
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.
Bending the Bard: Cinematic Twists on Shakespeare
A special film series commemorating the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, featuring some of the most interestingly skewed adaptations of his work in cinema history, including acclaimed films from directors Akira Kurosawa, Julie Taymor, Laurence Olivier, Gus Van Sant, and more. 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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
I wonder if the makers of Complete Unknown were as allured and intrigued by the movie’s central character, as they expect us to be. Alice (Rachel Weisz) is a lazy screenplay’s idea of a deep, complicated, thoroughly interesting woman—she’s altered her identity multiple times, traveled around the world, changed her name, and taken up several new professions. But instead of being a thickly woven tapestry of experience and complexity, Alice is a blank slate, a nothing of a person. Alice is a dud. So’s Complete Unknown. NED LANNAMANN Living Room Theaters.
The Disappointments Room
The director of Disturbia presents another thriller about people stuck in a house having to deal with heinous shit. This time, Kate Beckinsale accidentally unleashes supernatural horrors from the attic of her dream home. Unfortunately for Beckinsale, in this movie she’s not a kung fu vampire who’s been vacuum-sealed into a latex catsuit, so the degree of difficulty has been upped considerably. Not screened for critics. Various Theaters.
For a genre known for headbanging excess, it’s often the subtler things—rhythm, geography, use of negative space—that can put a horror movie over the top. The new home invasion movie Don’t Breathe displays a remarkable sense of when to hold back and build tension, and when to go ferociously all in. Throw in a terrifyingly committed performance by Stephen Lang and you’ve got the kind of thing that gets an entire audience giggling at their collective discomfort. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
Don’t Think Twice
One member’s overnight success upends an improv group, forcing its thirtysomething theater kids to reassess their careers, their futures, and their simmering resentment. What makes Mike Birbiglia’s Don’t Think Twice such a smart, universal comedy is the core friendship of the group: You can feel the genuine waves of affection coming off Birbiglia & Co. They’ve got each other’s backs, even as their relationships start to go sideways. It’s beyond refreshing to see a comedy where friends aren’t pitted against each other to manufacture conflict. COURTNEY FERGUSON Cinema 21.
A 1973 film collaboration between French and Czech animators, Fantastic Planet’s based on a science fiction novel by Stefan Wul called Oms en Série, but the movie’s theme has a lot to do with Czechoslovakia’s occupation by Soviet forces in the late ’60s, which brought about the close of the Prague Spring era. In the film, a race of blue giants, called Draags, co-exist with the human-like Oms. Oms are either considered by Draags to be mice-like pests or are kept captive as cute little pets, while the Draags are an enlightened, intelligent race with a sophisticated government and extensive rituals of mediation. Yet they consider Oms to be inferior beings, perhaps because of their size. (Cue allegory.) The story holds up completely, but the imagery is what’s really amazing: Although the animation itself is choppy and primitive, the drawings are nothing short of spectacular. It’s been described as a mixture of Salvador Dali, Hieronymous Bosch, and Terry Gilliam, and that drool-inducing assessment is not far off. There’s also a swanky ’70s progressive rock score, which is awesome and hilarious at the same time. (Madlib sampled the shit out of it.) NED LANNAMANN Academy Theater.
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.
Samwise Gamgee and Doc Block ask Short Round, a chubby exhibitionist, and a bad Michael Jackson impersonator to join them on a treasure hunt on the Oregon coast, where Joey Pants and the FBI dickhead from Die Hard are illegally detaining an ex-football player with encephalitis. Will this motley gang of misfits find Captain Dick Joke’s secret stash of gold coins before they’re brutally murdered by an English bulldog in a dress? Will everyone speak solely in perforated shrieks and yelps? Will you start to wish you were just playing the old NES game again instead of sitting through your 50th viewing of this tired nostalgia exercise that constitutes roughly 17 percent of Astoria’s economy? Hah! C’mon. Goonies never say die, right? It’s our time down here! BOBBY ROBERTS 99W Drive-In, Mission Theater.
Hell or High Water
Leave it to a Scot to deliver the next great American western. It’s possible director David Mackenzie (Starred Up) had the distance and perspective to depict Hell or High Water’s depressed West Texas towns and dust-dry plains with unvarnished truth. Maybe he recognized, from across the pond, a universal struggle in the specific plight of brothers Toby and Tanner Howard (Chris Pine and Ben Foster) as they try to hang on to their dead mother’s ranch. Perhaps he sensed the timeliness of a story that depicts white American men running out of time, money, and land. More likely, Mackenzie had Taylor Sheridan’s (Sicario) superb script to navigate a path around the obvious men-with-guns clichés that make up Hell or High Water’s western-noir milieu. Whatever the case may be, it’s resulted in an intelligent and incisive movie that’s painful and lovely to watch. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
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.
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 Living Room Theaters.
Kenshin Part II: Kyoto Inferno
The second part in the Rurouni Kenshin live-action trilogy, continuing the story of Kenshin Himura, who now has to fight a really, really pissed off ex-assassin long thought to be dead. Hollywood Theatre.
Kubo and the Two Strings
There was a bit of a lull after Laika’s 2009 feature debut Coraline, but the local animation studio has once again nailed it with Kubo and the Two Strings. The stop-motion visuals are beyond breathtaking, the scenery is effing majestic, and the characters are likeable. The film’s emotional heart and mythic, fantastical proportions make it a perfect blend of sweet and strange. COURTNEY FERGUSON Various Theaters.
Kung Fu Theater: Five Masters of Death
This month’s installment in Dan Halsted’s ongoing celebration of all things whoop-ass is a super-rare 35mm print of 1974’s Five Masters of Death, choreographed by legend Lau Kar Leung. The story is about students plotting revenge against evil oppressors, just like almost every classic kung fu film ever made, but it’s the way these Shaolin students decimate their enemies that makes it a must-see, with amazingly painful deployment of martial arts weaponry, the kind of stuff that would have had your seven year-old self rummaging through drawers for things to injure yourself and your siblings with. 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 Various Theaters.
The Light Between Oceans
This film is dripping in sadness, elegantly performed. Rachel Weisz, glittering in an anguished supporting role, at one point passes out on her lawn from emotional exhaustion. It’s a moment that director Derek Cianfrance lets go entirely without comment, but it’s the point at which his audience can most universally relate. MARJORIE SKINNER Living Room Theaters.
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 Laurelhurst Theater.
Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World
As a filmmaker, Werner Herzog is often obsessed with the tangible—with people on the edges of society, with feats as lethal as they are daring. But Lo and Behold is Herzog’s attempt to parse a world that’s moving away from the physical. It makes sense he starts his documentary by reminding us that the internet started as—and still is—a series of weird-smelling tubes and wires. It also makes sense, given the immeasurable ways the internet has affected humanity, Lo and Behold splits in countless directions: It isn’t long until Herzog’s interviewing brain researchers and hackers, until he’s watching orange-clad Buddhist monks stare into their phones. If this parade of scientists and eccentrics and weirdos sounds broad, it is: Herzog wants to look at every aspect of our online lives. Lo and Behold is a look at what might come next, and a mourning for what we’ve lost, but more than anything, it’s a meditation on how the internet has already changed us. ERIK HENRIKSEN Hollywood Theatre.
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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
Made in Venice
A new documentary looking at the storied history of Venice, CA, also known as Dogtown, also pretty much considered skateboard Mecca, from the rise of the Z-Boys to the construction of the Venice Skatepark. Hollywood Theatre.
Marinoni: Fire in the Frame
Tony Girardin’s documentary about the champion cyclist, his transition from riding bikes to making them, and his battle back from a life-threatening illness. Director in attendance. Hollywood Theatre.
Somehow the sequel to Jason Statham’s (relatively) low-key remake of the 1972 Charles Bronson crime classic has become a thing that looks a lot like a fucking Mission: Impossible movie, but with Jason Statham’s shiny-ass dome copy-and-pasted over Tom Cruise’s toothy visage. Various Theaters.
Miss Sharon Jones!
Want another documentary about a musician overcoming great adversity to achieve glittering critical and modest commercial success? Possibly not, but you should make room in your callous heart for director Barbara Kopple’s Miss Sharon Jones! The titular subject is a powerful vocalist who merits your respect and attention, regardless of whether or not you’re a fan of her band the Dap-Kings’ tried-and-true R&B, soul, and funk. DAVE SEGAL Living Room Theaters.
As we slide into the late-summer multiplex doldrums, movies with neurons to spare are especially welcome. Director Luke Scott is unquestionably Sir Ridley’s kid, and his full-length debut features many of the same hallmarks as his father: immaculate future-noir design work, rumbling sound schemes, and the no-big-deal depiction of women as equals. (Michelle Yeoh and Game of Thrones’ Rose Leslie are, as always, especially great.) Morgan’s biggest downside, really, is simply that last year’s Ex Machina got here first, tackling many of the same issues (and some of the same scenery) in a more audience-friendly, immediately satisfying way. Still, if you’re a sucker for movies where scientists tamper in God’s domain, this should give you plenty to chew on. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, the directing team behind Catfish, Paranormal Activity 3 and 4, and the new 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 Academy 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 broken arm, a dangling cigarette, and a look of constant confusion, reveals a heretofore unknown talent for ultrasonic shrieks and physical comedy. ERIK HENRIKSEN Laurelhurst Theater.
The People vs. Fritz Bauer
An absorbing dramatization of the capture of high-ranking Nazi Adolf Eichmann—and the man who made it happen, Fritz Bauer. Frazzled and occasionally belligerent, Bauer (Burghart Klaußner) sees opposition wherever he looks, from the death threats arriving through his mail slot to the complacency of a German society not yet willing to face itself. WWII is a never-ending source of film fodder, but it’s rare that the post-war ripple effects are given worthy attention—which happens here, even as the film’s examination of systemic denial offers an important glimpse into dangerous group psychology. MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters.
Anyone looking to compare this Pete’s Dragon with the 1977 original would do well not to—in part because the 1977 version is garbage, and in part because this remake is an entirely different creature. Set in the shadowed forests of the Pacific Northwest, Pete’s Dragon: 2016 Edition finds feral child Pete (Oakes Fegley) hanging out in the woods with his pal Elliot, a giant green dog who can fly. At its best points, that’s all the movie is: a dirt-smeared kid and his excellent dragon running around with a wild earnestness that recalls Spike Jonze’s underrated take on Where the Wild Things Are. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Queer Commons: Plan B
This month’s installment of the Hollywood’s queer-focused series is director Marco Berger’s debut Plan B, a comedy about a vengeful dumpee looking to ruin the dumper’s new relationship by befriending the new guy—until he realizes just befriending the guy might not be enough. Hollywood Theatre.
If you accidentally take kids to the animated feature Sausage Party, don’t fret. There are around 100 uses of the word “fuck” in the first three minutes. So you’ll know what to do. But should you stick around? Well, if you’re a fan of excessive profanity, casual misogyny, an abundance of racism, and are okay with only a couple of good laughs in a 90-minute movie, then by all means hang around. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
Southside With You
In 1989 Chicago, a young legal associate goes out on a first date-but-not-really-a-date with a lawyer. They hit up an art museum, they watch a Spike Lee movie, they kiss and have ice cream. You might be going “Huh. That almost makes it sound like the story of how Barack and Michelle Obama got together.” It is. Cinema 21.
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 The Holodeck.
While every other theater in the world went straight to either Willy Wonka or Blazing Saddles for this week’s Gene Wilder tributes, Laurelhurst is taking a bit of a left turn, and screening the best of the Wilder and Richard Pryor team-ups, 1980’s Stir Crazy, a ridiculous mistaken-identity farce (directed by Sidney Poitier!) that turns the goofiness up way past 11, then struts out of the room in a woodpecker suit while chanting “We bad, we bad!” Laurelhurst Theater.
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 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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
“Now, look what we have here before us. We got the Saracens sitting next to the Jones Street Boys. We’ve got the Moonrunners right by the Van Cortlandt Rangers. Nobody is wasting nobody. That... is a miracle. And miracles is the way things ought to be.” Hollywood Theatre.
When the Bough Breaks
Morris Chestnut and Regina Hall play young professionals who are rethinking their decision to hire Jaz Sinclair as the surrogate mother for their baby, mostly due to the fact Jaz is a fucking psycho fixated on the husband (and in her defense—he is Morris Chestnut. Rawr.) and willing to kill to keep him and the baby. Not screened for critics. Various Theaters.
The Wild Life
A gaggle of talking animals fight some cats, build a treehouse, and do one cutesy bullshit thing after another in this not-screened-for-critics 3D CGI animated feature loosely based on Robinson Crusoe (he’s the barefoot hippie sporting the tricorn hat and grinning like an idiot in the poster.) Various Theaters.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
“We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.” 99W Drive-In, Hollywood Theatre.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, Sept 9-Thursday, Sept 15, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.