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.
Danny Glover is much too old for all this Christmas shit. Not screened for critics. Various Theaters.
So. Much. Whimsy. Laurelhurst Theater.
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 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.
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.
Cinema Project: Passages
Curator David Dinnell puts together a two-day program featuring 19 contemporary short films, representing experimental and adventurous personal journeys through the worlds of documentary, animation, sci-fi, and more. Visit cinemaproject.org for a full list of shorts and showtimes. NXT Industries.
Doctor Strange first appeared in the 1963 Marvel Comics anthology Strange Tales as a crippled neurosurgeon apprenticed to a wise Tibetan sorcerer, the Ancient One. After ascending to the position of Sorcerer Supreme, Strange went on to defend Earth from magical attackers and, eventually, chill with the Avengers. As recently as 2011, Strange was loaning the Avengers his manservant, a Chinese man named Wong. It was kind of fucked up. Now the action-packed, eye-popping Doctor Strange movie reboots Dr. Stephen Strange’s origin story, and Marvel is finally trying to make good on that bad. Doctor Strange might have a lot of baggage, but more than anything else, it’s fun. SUZETTE SMITH Various Theaters.
Frak! Theater: The Time Machine
“What have you done? Thousands of years of building and rebuilding, creating and recreating, so you can let it crumble to dust. A million years of sensitive men dying for their dreams—for what? So you can swim, and dance, and play.” Hollywood Theatre.
The Stooges are hardly the type of band to be given the preening rock-doc treatment. Despite the esteem they accrued in the years after their 1974 breakup, the abrasive Michigan proto-punkers were woefully underappreciated in their time. They were under-documented, too—something that’s maybe a little too apparent in Jim Jarmusch’s documentary on the Stooges, Gimme Danger, which uses what scant primary sources exist, but fills the bulk of its runtime with of recent interviews with the band. The Stooges’ mouthpiece, Iggy Pop, gets the most words in, and as enjoyable as it is to hear him self-mythologize, the end result feels oddly perfunctory and severely lacking in context. NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre.
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.
Part of consuming media is making peace with the people who created it, and that’s not always easy. I’m proudly Jewish, but I also love Lethal Weapon and Apocalypto, so evidently I’ve found a way to make my peace with Mel Gibson. But I don’t expect you to, for any number of reasons. We each decide where we draw the line, and while Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge is an interesting film, it isn’t so good that I’d suggest you cross yours. BEN COLEMAN Various Theaters.
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. 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.
Former Oregonian film critic Shawn Levy, author of Dolce Vita Confidential, a loving look back at Roman cinema and culture of the 1950s and ’60s, hosts this screening of Dino Risi’s cult comedy. Hollywood Theatre.
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.
Kung Fu Theater: Fighting Fists of Shanghai Joe
This monthâ€™s installment in Dan Halstedâ€™s ongoing celebration of all things whoop-ass is an amazingly-rare 35mm print of 1973â€™s Fighting Fists of Shanghai Joe, which blends the genres of kung fu and spaghetti western to tell the story of a man looking for work in the old west, only to come across a bunch of redneck dipshits trying to keep him and other immigrants down. When Shanghai Joe starts throwing hands, they send Klaus Kinski after his ass, and that’s when the movie gets righteously violent. 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.
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.
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 was 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 voted for Clinton, but maybe didn’t feel great about it? TrumpLand will make you feel better. ERIK HENRIKSEN On Demand.
Moonlight is a movie about what it’s like to grow up male in America. Moonlight is also a movie about what it’s like to grow up gay in America. And Moonlight is, in addition, a movie about what it’s like to grow up black in America. That inevitably makes Barry Jenkins’ justly acclaimed film sound like it will appeal primarily to gay, black, and/or male audiences. And indeed, people who share some or all of its protagonist’s characteristics will be overjoyed at the belated depiction of lives like theirs on screen. But Moonlight, if I can swoon for a moment, does what all true art aspires to do. It shares something unique but universal about what it’s like to be human. MARC MOHAN Cinema 21.
If you learn anything from Richard Donner’s The Omen, it should be this: when you’re at the hospital, and a priest sees you mourning the loss of your child, and he tries to cut you in on a super-sweet deal for a free replacement baby? You should probably turn him down. Gregory Peck had that chance, and he didn’t take it, and next thing you know, he’s got to explain to his poor wife that their creepy little anklebiter dressed like the guitarist from AC/DC is actually the son of Satan. That kinda shit will get you put in the doghouse real quick. You also run out of babysitters pretty fast that way. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
Peter and the Farm
Tony Stone’s documentary tells the story of Peter Dunning, a product of the 1960s who grew up, got married, had some kids, bought a farm, and proceeded to burn all his bridges, leaving him alone in the 21st century with his bad habits, counterculture memories, and the company of livestock. Hollywood Theatre.
Portland Latin American Film Festival: Panoramas
Monthly screenings from the Portland Latin American Film Festival. This month: Rodrigo Guardiola’s Panoramas, a look at two years in the life of Latin American alternative band Zoé. Hollywood Theatre.
Queer Horror: Addams Family Values
The bimonthly series, hosted by Carla Rossi, returns with a 35mm screening of Addams Family Values, one of the few sequels in history to improve on its predecessor in pretty much every way possible: It’s creepier, it’s kookier, it’s more emotional, it’s better looking, and it doesn’t have a bunch of half-ass Hammer songs shoehorned into it for marketing purposes. The screening will be preceded by a Camp Chippewa pre-show featuring some of Portland’s flashiest queens in their Thanksgiving finest. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
1985’s Ran is often (correctly) described as Kurosawa’s riff on Shakespeare’s King Lear, but I’ve always thought it had more in common with Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Not in subject matter or style, but in the way it exposes Kurosawa’s psyche so clearly. Ran is the story of an old ruler, guilty of terrible crimes and nearing the end of his life; in a moment of foolish optimism, he divides his kingdom among his three sons. The chaos that ensues drives him insane as his whole world falls to beautiful, soul-destroying ruin all around him, burnt and salted by the same pride that fueled his rise. By blending Shakespearean tragedy with old Japanese legend, and applying every technique he ever learned or invented, Kurosawa creates an epic that comes as close as anything to realizing the concept of filmed poetry. BOBBY ROBERTS Academy Theater.
Rock & Rule
Nelvana is the acclaimed Canadian studio responsible for animated landmarks such as ’70s Halloween special The Devil and Daniel Mouse, the beloved Inspector Gadget series, and the first appearance of Boba Fett in The Star Wars Holiday Special. They passed up the opportunity to work on the adaptation of Heavy Metal to make their own rock-fueled animated epic, set in a post-apocalyptic America populated by mutants. Unfortunately, Rock & Rule is a pretty big piece of shit whose thrills are limited to its soundtrack (including Debbie Harry and Iggy Pop) and the knowledge that the guys who worked on the Care Bears movies made this nasty little turd, too. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
That one lady from The Ring and that one kid from Room are—you won’t believe this—in a scary movie about people trapped in their houses! There’s weird nightmare shit in here too, I guess, and Oliver Platt is probably very Oliver Platt-y. It wasn’t screened for critics though, so you’re gonna have to roll the dice on whether Naomi Watts and Jacob Tremblay will go two for two on that whole agoraphobic chills and thrills thing. Various Theaters.
Probably the most subversive kids film ever made, sending the following messages simultaneously: Stealing is awesome, adults are stupid, your parents are useless, God is a musty dipshit, and there’s no adventure like the kind you get into with a band of marauding, time-traveling steampunk dwarfs. If you couldn’t suss it out by the description alone, this is definitely a Terry Gilliam joint. BOBBY ROBERTS Laurelhurst Theater, Mission Theater.
Your kids don’t care that this shit is about 20 years too late. Neither did the film company that made it, or 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.