Yes, this is an indie film with Shia LaBeouf in it. No, he doesn’t have that nasty-ass beard anymore. Yes, he’s still kind of a distracting weirdo radiating awkward shame in every direction. But writer/director Andrea Arnold knows how to use that effectively in support of Sasha Lane, the real star of the film (her name is literally Star), as a teenager on a cross-country journey with a crew of like-minded wanderers slinging magazines door-to-door. Fox Tower 10.
Bending the Bard: Cinematic Twists on Shakespeare
A 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 films from directors Akira Kurosawa, Julie Taymor, Laurence Olivier, Gus Van Sant, and more. More at nwfilm.org. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
The Blob (1958)
Steve McQueen stars in this 1958 horror classic about ravenous slime bent on consuming the planet. Of all the things that escaped the 1950s to resonate through the history of pop culture, this film’s legacy is one of the most potent. You don’t even have to see it (although you should, especially if it’s screening at a damn drive-in) to buy into it. You just have to be willing to tap into that childlike mentality that suggests the floor is lava, there are monsters under the bed, and amorphous gelatin from outer space is gonna find you and eat you the fuck up. BOBBY ROBERTS 99W Drive-In.
Chills & Thrills: The Gimmick Series
The Hollywood’s latest throwback series firmly and lovingly embraces the art of the gimmick, spending the month of October resurrecting classic Hollywood hucksterism via awesome-yet-corny promotional stunts. Saturday, October 1 allows you to see and feel William Castle’s The Tingler in seat-shaking “Percepto.” Monday, October 10 features John Waters’ Polyester in its original “Odorama.” Friday, October 14 sees—in anaglyph red and blue 3D—a 35mm screening of the monster classic Creature from the Black Lagoon. Wednesday, October 19 is your opportunity to feel Irwin Allen’s legendary disaster flick Earthquake in real room-rumbling “Sensurround.” Hollywood Theatre.
Fashion in Film
Eden Dawn and former Mercury fashion maven Marjorie Skinner present a special screening of one of the most David Lynchian things David Lynch ever David Lynched: 1992’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, both a bit of a dry run for Mulholland Drive and a bitter, hallucinogenic pill ramrodded down the collective throat of the show’s fans. Time and distance has eased the very, very bad trip the director sent his acolytes on in 1992, and it’s also made apparent just how visually and stylistically influential both the show and the movie have become. Hollywood Theatre.
Looking to get another hit of down-under magic after getting high on the wonderful Hunt for the Wilderpeople? Director Rosemary Myer’s coming-of-age fantasy Girl Asleep might do the trick, following a 15-year-old Australian introvert who finds herself transported to a parallel—and much more theatrical— universe on her birthday. Living Room Theaters.
The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival & CthulhuCon
Portland’s annual celebration of all things slimy and tentacled, with special guests including John Shirley, Sean Branney, Cody Goodfellow, and the celebrated director of From Beyond and Re-Animator, Stuart Gordon. More at hplfilmfestival.com. Hollywood Theatre.
Seven Japanese schoolgirls visit a haunted house in Nobuhiko Obayashi’s 1977 head-trip, which is quite simply one of the weirdest movies I have ever seen. The effects are incredibly cheesy and the movie refuses to settle on a consistent tone, but Obayashi’s visual style creates a wispy, sugary dream world that gushes with blood. NED LANNAMANN Laurelhurst 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 father’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 Century Clackamas Town Center.
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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
Kung Fu Theater: Seven Brothers Meet Dracula
This month’s installment in Dan Halsted’s ongoing celebration of all things whoop-ass is an amazingly-rare 35mm print of 1974’s Seven Brothers Meet Dracula, a collaboration between Hammer Studios and the Shaw Bros., and if you’re already grinning at the mere idea of a Hammer horror packed so full of kung fu mayhem its cravat might burst, you’re going to be—to use a British term—abso-fucking-lutely giddy when you clap eyes on Peter Cushing and David Chiang doing battle against a squad of gangster-ass vampires rocking enchanted gold medallions. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
The Magnificent Seven
If there’s a way to make a movie starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Peter Sarsgaard, and Byung-hun Lee and not have it be super fun to watch, scientists have yet to discover it. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
I haven't liked a Tim Burton film since Batman Returns, and I'm saying that now to illustrate how much I did like his latest, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Coming from an overly precious book series and an eccentric director, I don't know how MPHPC turned out so relatable, exciting, and heartwarming, but it's a friggin romp. It's like a good Harry Potter movie without the awkward mandate to follow the book's plot. MPHPC the film throws MPHPC the book out the window. (Polite opera claps.) Plus, Asa Butterfield is the perfect empty persona for the audience to latch onto, and Samuel L. Jackson actually has fun for once! But wait, my space is running out and I have to warn you about the messy time trav— SUZETTE SMITH Various Theaters.
Finally, after 36 years, the Tall Man exits stage left, angry little ball behind him, in the final chapter of the Phantasm series, Phantasm: Ravager. Only the ball isn’t so little, anymore. If the trailer is any indication, it’s less like a murderous snitch from Harry Potter and more like a Death Star made of knife. It probably won’t be the greatest of hop-on points for newcomers to the increasingly ridiculous series, but if you’ve been soaking in Phantasm’s unique aesthetic for the past three decades? Consider this your love letter from director Don Coscarelli and the dearly departed Angus Scrimm. Hollywood Theatre.
Who knows, maybe the prolapsed rectum in a wig that melted down into a sweaty, sniffing mess from behind his lectern might actually manage a somewhat decent performance against Secretary Clinton when allowed to go ambling around the stage in this town hall-styled debate. Or maybe you’ll witness stage two of Trump: the Tire-Fire. Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater, Mission Theater.
Print the Legend
So there's this competition-style reality show on. It’s the one that pits the bloviating, orange-haired pustule who spouts incoherent, racist free verse against a grandparent with the temerity to possess a vagina. The show asks America to make the agonizing decision: Which one’s worse? Well, according to several sources, this is no mere entertainment: In just a few short weeks, the results will be used to determine which striver will occupy the most important job in the country for the next four years (or until he gets bored and quits). As usual, one can turn to H.L. Mencken: “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.” The fact that electioneering and entertainment have become so incestuously linked is the subject of the NW Film Center’s fall series Print the Legend, which lines up 17 movies between now and Election Day that tackle the intersections of politics and mass media. Also see "Print the Legend: Cinema, and Politics, at the NW Film Center" [Film, Sept 7]. MARC MOHAN NW Film Center.
Queen of Katwe
There’s a not insignificant legacy of terrible movies about poor brown kids being taught out of poverty by godly white people like Sandra Bullock. Mira Nair’s Queen of Katwe isn’t one of those movies. Queen of Katwe’s protagonist—a Ugandan tween named Phiona—dominates at chess with the help of a teacher, yes, but that teacher is a black, Ugandan one, Robert (David Oyelowo). Robert teaches the slum kids chess because these kids are fighters, and chess is a game for fighters. Families looking for a not-cartoon movie to see together should know, however, that it isn’t a fast movie. It’s not short, either, but if “not racist” and “for smart kids” is your family’s deal, Queen of Katwe might be a movie for you. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
Queer Horror: Beetlejuice
The bimonthly series, hosted by Carla Rossi, returns with a 35mm screening of Beetlejuice, Tim Burton’s 1988 blockbuster featuring Michael Keaton’s last great comedic performance as a guttural, gutter-born Robin Williams in dingy stripes, coughing and spitting one liners in every direction like a haywire lawn sprinkler. But if it were just a vehicle for Keaton’s madness, it couldn’t maintain the legendary status it holds, and Rossi intends to celebrate the film’s campy atmosphere, feminist messaging, and its strong argument that being strange is necessary, and art should be dangerous. Hollywood Theatre.
The Return of the Living Dead
While it’s a fact the most influential person in zombie fiction is George Romero, the undead’s most easily identified trait—their hunger for human brains—came not from him, but from Dan O’Bannon, co-writer of Alien and writer/director of this 1985 cult classic, which also introduced the idea that zombies can run, talk, and deliver Schwarzenegger-tier one-liners. It’s funnier than it is scary, but its signature creature, the Tarman, is one of horror’s most iconic monsters. While it’s not anywhere near as satisfying as Romero’s own Day of the Dead released that same year, it’s understandable why audiences then (and now, really) would have preferred the nudity-filled, punk rock joys of O’Bannon’s spinoff instead. BOBBY ROBERTS Academy Theater.
The story itself may not be all that original—young lovers on the run, staying together against all odds—but the way the story is told sets Tanna apart from all other riffs on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, shot entirely in the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu, based on real events that happened there in 1987, and starring a cast pulled entirely from members of island’s tribal communities. Living Room Theaters.
Train to Busan
South Korean director Yeon Sang-ho sticks a bunch of people on a bullet train, then loads it up with a shitload of pissed off fast zombies, sets the throttle wide open, and lets it go. Hollywood Theatre.