It’s not hard to imagine how Ben Affleck was convinced to sign on to The Accountant. “Hey Benny!” director Gavin O’Connor shouted into the phone, probably. “Gotta real good movie for ya. So this accountant guy, he’s just like Good Will Hunting, but also he’s Batman!” “I’m in,” grunted Affleck, and voila! Movie magic is made. The problem, though, isn’t that The Accountant is two ill-matched movies smooshed together—it’s actually more like five or six, and none of them are thought-out enough to carry the day. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
Answering the Call
A documentary about Dr. Martin Luther King’s march on Selma, the evolution of the Voting Rights Act, and the modern attempts to circumvent it. Hollywood Theatre.
Army of One
Larry Charles (Borat) directs this story about an unemployed ex-con who believes he's been tapped by God (Russell Brand) to travel to Pakistan and get Osama bin Laden. The unemployed ex-con is played by Nicolas Cage in a beard doing a really fucking weird high-pitched voice. Not screened for critics, but c'mon—does any critic possess the vocabulary needed to capture the essence of batshit Cage? No. Batshit Cage must be experienced. Maybe that’s why they refused to send us a copy for review even after we asked twice.... On Demand.
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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
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.
Black Cinema 2: A Deep Responsibility To Live Up To
See Film, this issue. Portland Community Media.
Jean-Luc Godard’s jump-cut pioneering, nouvelle vague-defining film remains surprisingly fresh—Breathless is an account of two young people trying on roles in the big city, relevant to any 22-year-old currently rocking an asymmetrical haircut and a copy of Shoplifting from American Apparel. The big city here happens to be Paris, richly gorgeous in this reissued print, which was cleaned up with the assistance of the film’s original cinematographer, Raoul Coutard. ALISON HALLETT Academy Theater.
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.
Director Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women arrives in theaters at an oddly appropriate moment. As America gazes in disgusted fascination at the spectacle of a misogynistic boil being lanced on the most public of stages, Reichardt’s delicate but powerful triptych of Montana-set tales is a reminder of how quietly radical it can be to tell stories about women’s lives—simply, and with unforced empathy. MARC MOHAN Cinema 21.
Probably the last thing Bob Zemeckis did that could truly be considered "good," before he wandered into mo-cap wilderness to flounder away whatever filmmaking goodwill he'd accrued to that point. And there was a lot of it following this adaptation of Carl Sagan's novel, featuring one of Jodie Foster's best performances as Dr. Ellie Arroway, a researcher who becomes an astronaut in order to finally meet the extraterrestrial beings she's been trying to communicate with all her life. Post-film Q&A with Lily Brooks-Dalton and Dan DeWeese. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
Director David Cronenberg had been finely honing his almost supernatural skill for cinematic creepiness for most of the 1980s, but it was '88's Dead Ringers, starring Jeremy Irons as twin gynecologists, where he synthesized body horror, psychological horror, and barely navigable surreality to a scalpel-sharp point. Which he then used to cut the audienceâ€™s sense of comfort to bits. Q&A with novelist Jonathan Lethem and journalist Casey Jarman to follow. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
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.
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 Great Dictator
Charlie Chaplin didn’t start talking in movies until 1940’s The Great Dictator, a very funny take on Hitler and fascism. Chaplin said in later years that he never would have made light of the situation in Europe if he knew how dire it had actually been, but the result is a surreal, biting political satire, the best of its kind until 1964’s Dr. Strangelove. NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre.
The Handmaiden runs almost two and a half hours, but it’s stuffed with enough narrative twists and detail to fill a movie twice as long. It’s a gluttonous feast for the mind and the eye, not to mention a few other organs. In fact, the only real problem with the latest ravishing, demented effort from South Korean auteur Park Chan-Wook is that you probably need to see it twice to absorb everything it throws at you. MARC MOHAN Cinema 21, Hollywood Theatre.
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 Laurelhurst Theater.
This new Robert Langdon movie has the same conceit as the other two: Indiana Jones, but in loafers, and with fewer Nazis, and worse. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
Into the Inferno
Another filmmaker would be content to shoot some crazy exploding lava and call it a day. Werner Herzog, though, finds more: Into the Inferno features scientists hunting for shards of ancient skeletons, a cargo cult singing and dancing beneath the ominous glow of an active volcano, and surreal proof of how North Korea’s dictators twisted the mythological power of Mount Paektu. Herzog finds eruptions and their haunting devastations, volcano shelters and predictors, and a concrete church, supposedly shaped like a dove, slowly taking form. (“Yes,” one of the construction workers admits, “most people say it’s like a chicken. They call it the Chicken Church.”) Herzog and volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer seek volcanoes; they also seek nothing less, as Herzog puts it, than “the demons, the new gods.” ERIK HENRIKSEN Netflix.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
Jack Reacher knows, deep in his tough-guy heart, that one should never go back—that, almost always, one will regret doing so. In Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Reacher goes back. The only people who regret it are the bad guys. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Keeping Up with the Joneses
Keeping Up with the Joneses is not a good movie—it’s dumb, boring, and predictable—but it’s stacked with an excellent cast, dozens of chuckles, and a handful of legitimately brilliant LOLs. And it’s exactly what you’d imagine by combining Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Date Night. So these Joneses aren’t too hard to keep up with. A brisk walk should do it. Well, not even brisk. Airport-speed. Moving with some purpose, not dawdling, but definitely not winning any races. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
Kevin Hart: What Now?
Comedy’s biggest little man stands tall at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field for his newest concert film full of his high-energy brand of observational humor. Various Theaters.
Mad Max: Fury Road: Black & Chrome
A brutal, beautiful, two-hour action overdose injected with a welcome feminist bent. Black & Chrome is director George Miller's preferred cut of the film—entirely in black and white. Fox Tower 10.
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.
Given pioneers' near-mythological status, it's easy to forget that it would've sucked to be one of 'em. Sure, adorable li'l Laura Ingalls Wilder might have bonded with her loving family as they built a little house on the prairie, but also... y'know... DONNER PARTY. That frontier life of unrelenting suckitude is excruciatingly well rendered in Meek’s Cutoff from director Kelly Reichardt and writer Jon Raymond. ERIK HENRIKSEN Fifth Avenue Cinema.
“Okay, so, what am I doing? Oh, I’m chasing this guy! No... he’s chasing me.” Laurelhurst Theater.
Michael Moore in TrumpLand
Michael Moore’s latest is a far cry from Bowling for Columbine, Roger & Me, and Fahrenheit 9/11. Rather than one of his clever, damning documentaries, Moore’s TrumpLand is a hit-or-miss standup special, with Moore giving the residents of Wilmington, Ohio, an earnest pep talk about why they should vote for Hillary Clinton. Despite a few unfunny, ungainly bits, and despite Moore’s penchant for preaching to the choir, TrumpLand does its job well: Moore makes a clear-eyed, passionate case for why voting for Clinton is the right thing to do, and a section in which he addresses the (very real, very horrible) issues facing working-class Americans who’ve been courted by Donald Trump offers a much-needed glimpse into the human dynamics of a fucked-over electorate. Everyone already has an opinion about Clinton (and Moore), and no one will be shocked or surprised by anything in TrumpLand. Still: If you’re voting for Clinton, but maybe not feeling great about it? TrumpLand will make you feel better. ERIK HENRIKSEN Clinton Street Theater, On Demand.
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.
Mr. Holland’s Opus
Edmund Stone, host of All Classical Portland’s wonderful program The Score, presents this special 35mm screening of the 1997 inspirational drama filmed at Grant High and starring Richard Dreyfuss. If you were actually part of the production in any way, you’re invited to join in the post-film discussion about how the movie was made with local film archivist Greg Hamilton. Proceeds benefit All Classical Portland. Hollywood Theatre.
Ouija: Origin of Evil
While 2014’s Ouija was a forgettable foray that built its flimsy house of spirits on jump scares and teenagers’ casual dropping of such Victorian terms as “planchette,” Origin of Evil is a smarter bit of demonic possession. A single mom (Elizabeth Reaser) struggles to pay the bills with her fortune-telling business until she buys Hasbro’s ouija board game, which provides her with a cottage industry of ghostly proportions (nice marketing!). But thanks to ouija, her youngest daughter, the creepy Doris (Lulu Wilson), starts seeing every dead thing under the sun. Murder and jump scares ensue. COURTNEY FERGUSON Various Theaters.
Print the Legend
So there's this competition-style reality show on. Itâ€™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.
Queer Commons: Shelter
This month’s installment of the Hollywood’s queer-focused series is Shelter, a coming-of-age and coming out story featuring a man trying to reconcile the needs of his family with his own romantic desires. Hollywood Theatre.
Repressed Cinema: Surprise Film Noir
Do you like film noir? Do you like surprises? Holy shit this month’s Repressed Cinema is right up your dark and shadowy alley, because you won’t know what oddball 16mm noir is screening until you take your seat and let the mystery—and a series of weird short films—envelop you like so much cigarette smoke and a trenchcoat. Hollywood Theatre.
This stunning new documentary explores that terribly beautiful summer day in 1966 when a former Eagle Scout took a sniper’s perch and opened fire on the University of Texas campus. Although the film’s combination of archival footage and Waking Life–ish rotoscoped animation may initially seem like a gimmick, it becomes apparent within the first few minutes that this may actually be the best way to capture the horrid unreality of the situation. Based on a Texas Monthly article by Pamela Colloff, director Keith Maitland takes a shambling, grounds-eye approach to the material, with terrified students, green police officers, and a schlubby badass of a bookstore employee all swept up in the 90-plus minutes of random gunfire. Even with such a wealth of worthy stories, though, Maitland keeps circling back to one of the first victims, a grievously wounded pregnant student named Claire Wilson (voiced by Violett Beane) who spent the bulk of the ordeal helplessly playing dead on the hot sidewalk. While Wilson’s delirious condition paves the way for some of the most striking animated segments, it’s ultimately the modern-day live-action appearance of her and the other participating survivors that end Tower with some modicum of hope. ANDREW WRIGHT Living Room Theaters.
Your kids don’t care that this shit is about 20 years too late. Neither did the studio that made it, nor the actors who cashed the sizable checks they got to voice it. Nobody gives turd one whether anyone on this Earth ever wanted or asked for a fucking Trolls movie. Its here, and your children will numbly stare at it for two hours of relative calm and peace in the rancid tire fire that is 2016, and that has more than enough worth all by itself. Anyway, we didn’t bother going to this screening, and there are two months left until 2017. Hold on. Be strong. Troll on. Various Theaters.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, November 4-Thursday, November 10, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.