See review, this issue. Various Theaters.
All-Night Horror Marathon
The unknown is literally a scary thing tonight—or rather, it’s four scary things. If you wanna know what horror classics from the 1970s and ’80s are getting screened in 35mm tonight, you’ll have to enter the theater first in order to discover what bloody treasures await you, alongside the more mundane (but delicious) treasures of pizza, beer, and coffee. Hollywood Theatre.
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.
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week—The Touring Years
The world needs a new Beatles documentary like it needs another garbage gyre in the Pacific Ocean, but Eight Days a Week plays it smart by selecting a single lane of the Fab Four’s sprawling saga and following it from start to finish. Director Ron Howard’s slick but enjoyable movie focuses on the group solely as a touring and performing entity during the Beatlemania years of the early and mid 1960s. NED LANNAMANN Cinema 21.
Bending the Bard: Cinematic Twists on Shakespeare
A 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 Birth of a Nation
It’s hard to remember the last time a movie showed up with this much off-screen baggage, from its incendiary political relevance to its record-setting acquisition at Sundance to, of course, the controversy surrounding the 1999 rape accusation against director Nate Parker. That $17.5 million price tag was based on Fox Searchlight’s success—both in prestige and box office—with 12 Years a Slave three years ago. Birth isn’t as artistically sophisticated as 12 Years, but it has the potential to be much more impactful. At the advance screening I attended, several voices spontaneously called out “Black Lives Matter!” and recited the names of African American victims of police violence as the end credits rolled. This sort of demonstration will surely be repeated across the nation over the next few weeks, and it seems to me like a healthy thing for white folks to be exposed to. MARC MOHAN Various Theaters.
Sure, there was nothing technically wrong with Gus Van Sant’s 1998 remake of Psycho, but it sure did lack a certain something. The shot-by-shot remake of Hitchcock’s classic suffered from a slavish devotion to its source material—and Blair Witch, the sequel to 1999’s The Blair Witch Project, suffers from the same flat-line syndrome. There’s nothing glaringly bad about it, but the magic has been recycled away. COURTNEY FERGUSON Various Theaters.
A rare opportunity to see Mark Duplass and Sarah Paulson playing charming, sensitive, compassionate, normal people, whose high-school romance sparks back to life after a chance meeting at their hometown grocery store. Cinema 21.
Bridget Jones’ Baby
Bridget Jones is a figurehead for the romantic comedy genre—a genre oft-reviled for letting a plot device as simple as finding love carry a film. But come on: This is something that people, both men and women, want in our lives. Bridget Jones, as both a character and romcom juggernaut, shouldn’t be faulted for celebrating this pursuit. So why should we fault the (mostly female) public who will line up for this? And why should I deride this movie for being another unnecessary, unasked-for sequel, with subject matter like “love” and “babies” in this dark, apocalyptic 2016? I won’t. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
Carnival of Souls
In 1962, an industrial filmmaker from Kansas named Herk Harvey set out to make a film that could stand next to the works of his heroes, Jean Cocteau and Ingmar Bergman. What he made was one profoundly weird horror movie about a woman who crawls from the wreckage of a drag race, becomes a church organist in Utah, and has to deal with all the goddamned dead people she can’t stop seeing everywhere. Laurelhurst Theater.
Much like Freddy and Jason before him, Chucky survived the artificial extension of his celluloid lifespan by descending into self-aware, gloryhallastoopid self-parody as the sequels stacked up. But Chucky also shares with those two titans of horror a (comparatively) more low-key introduction—1988's Child’s Play introduced the idea that a doll could get possessed and kill the living shit out of you with way more seriousness than the premise ever deserved. Thanks to horror veteran Tom Holland's solid direction and Brad Dourif's sheer force of will, Chucky embodies a successful perversion of innocence that isn't just smirky and smug, it's also legitimately scary. Academy Theater.
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.
There’s something familiar about David Irving in Denial, which recounts the holocaust denier’s 2000 defamation suit against Jewish historian Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz). Irving (played by a villainous, jowly Timothy Spall) is a narcissistic misogynist who openly courts white supremacists, capitalizes on headlines (good or bad), and handles bad press with litigation. Lipstadt is aghast that she must acknowledge his disgusting lies, let alone take time and energy proving they’re wrong. I expected a Holocaust procedural movie to be (1) boring and (2) a bummer, but Denial is neither. Now if I could only figure out who Irving reminds me of.... KJERSTIN JOHNSON Fox Tower 10.
Director Rosemary Myer’s coming-of-age fantasy Girl Asleep follows 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 Girl on the Train
I didn’t really have any expectations for The Girl on the Train. Despite putting the novel on my reading list and having it recommended by many people whose opinions I respect, I’ll share that singular shame of shames: I am reviewing this movie without having read the book. Will it hold up if you already know the twist that’s coming? Maybe not! But when it finally did arrive, it reduced me to jaw-dropped fetal-position sitting for the final portion of the film and made the boring lead-up totally worth it. I mean, don’t get too excited: Some parts of this movie are deeply silly. But that’s partly what makes it so enjoyable: You think you’re being subjected to yet another cerebral drama about a deeply unhappy person, and then it turns into a compelling, blood-soaked, weirdly heartwarming revenge fantasy. MEGAN BURBANK Various Theaters.
The Greasy Strangler
Big Ronnie (the genuinely alarming Michael St. Michaels) finds himself jealous of his son’s new girlfriend. Which leads, naturally enough, to eyeball gobbling, naked jaunts through the car wash, and other stuff too gross to print. Director Jim Hosking’s feature debut is absolutely filthy with Tim and Eric vibes, resulting in too many dead-atmosphere shots where the camera leers at what seems to be a never-ending cascade of man-boobs and way-too-form-fitting briefs. Still, if this is your sort of thing, the film’s commitment to being continually unpleasant is almost admirable. To steal a line from Mystery Science Theater, every frame looks like someone’s Last Known Photo. ANDREW WRIGHT On Demand.
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 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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
Kevin Hart: What Now?
Comedy’s biggest little man stands tall at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field for his newest concert film featuring his high-energy brand of observational humor. Various Theaters.
Looking, Really Looking! The Films of Chantal Akerman 1968-2015
The NW Film Center showcases a finely curated selection of works from the adventurous directorâ€™s 40-plus films. More at nwfilm.org. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
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.
A Man Called Ove
From the start of Hannes Holm’s fanciful character study A Man Called Ove, Sweden’s official submission for the foreign-language Oscar, it’s clear where things are going: The curmudgeon of the title is going to get a wake-up call. If the tone is more overtly sentimental, A Man Called Ove plays like a Swedish variation on Gran Torino—except the cars are Volvos and Saabs. KATHY FENNESSY Cinema 21.
Match Cut Movie Club
A mystery screening series: Buy a ticket, be surprised. Past selections have included Mamet’s The Spanish Prisoner and Coppola’s The Conversation. More at matchcutmovieclub.com. Living Room 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.
North Portland Unknown Film Festival
See Film, this issue. Disjecta.
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.
Pillars of Portland
Sometimes a bad movie can be fun, like the notoriously awful The Room. But sometimes bad is simply bad. The NW Film Center celebrates one straight-up failure this week: Pillars of Portland. Made as a pilot for KOIN-TV in 1983 and based on an equally uninteresting Willamette Week column, Pillars of Portland was an attempt at a homegrown soap opera populated by characters meant to represent the strata of Portland society (complete with punny names like Wes Hills and Sandy Burnside). The results are shoddy, filled with stilted acting and pointless scenarios. Proceed with caution. Cast and crew in attendance. ROBERT HAM NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
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’s Whitsell Auditorium.
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.
Repressed Cinema: Andy Milligan Horror Spectacular
People talk about Roger Corman and Ed Wood, but one of the biggest legends of low-budget was Andy Milligan, and this month’s Repressed Cinema pays tribute to the man’s shoestring style with a special screening of Guru the Mad Monk, preceded by an ultra-rare Milligan short from the private stash of his biographer, Jimmy McDonough, who’ll be in attendance to host the whole night. Hollywood Theatre.
Since 1988’s remake, the primary question regarding any new Godzilla movie concerns its authenticity: Are we gonna get the real Godzilla? The question’s almost meaningless, considering the creature’s myriad interpretations over the past 60-plus years, but people really want reassurance they won’t be wasting time on an overlong, unsatisfying, kitschy sci-fi mess—which is, of course, what real Godzilla movies often are. So yes, Virginia: this latest reboot is a real Godzilla movie, and enjoying it will depend on how adept you are at tolerating tons of mediocre blah-blah in exchange for brief bouts juicy monster goodness. Which, I’ve been told, is how real Godzilla fans tend to do it. BOBBY ROBERTS Fox Tower 10, Hollywood Theatre.
The story of US Airways Flight 1549—which, in 2009, pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger famously landed on the Hudson River—was going to be made into a movie whether we wanted it or not. So the news that Clint Eastwood, nowadays a dimmed, decidedly disappointing figure, was going to direct was neither surprising nor exciting. But I’m a bit relieved, then, to tell you that Sully is a far more successful exercise in both dramatic storytelling and patriotism than Eastwood’s 2012 dialogue with a chair. NED LANNAMANN Various 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.
A naïve blonde new to Queens, Leah (Morgan Saylor) befriends her Puerto Rican neighbors and starts dating a drug dealer, Blue (Brian “Sene” Marc). When Blue gets picked up by cops, she takes up his cause—hiring a lawyer and trying to sell the rest of his stash (if she doesn’t snort it all first). Per its evocative title, the film showcases a lesson in privilege—white femininity makes Leah vulnerable in some ways, but ultimately exculpates her when bad decisions catch up to her. The real question is how entertaining you find said lesson to watch. The film seems aware of its premise; its protagonist, not so much. KJERSTIN JOHNSON Hollywood Theatre.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, October 14-Thursday, October 20, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.