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.
I don’t care how hot your wife is: Nazism is always a dealbreaker. This is common sense, and it’s utterly lacking in Robert Zemeckis’ dreadful Allied, which tries SO HARD to sell a sentimental load of garbage in a WWII-era love story between two spies (Marion Cotillard and Brad Pitt), one of whom might be a Nazi. MEGAN BURBANK Various Theaters.
In the bright light of something shiny and new, it’s easy to declare that thing an outlier: To smile and point and proclaim that here, at last, is a thing that makes everything that follows a little bit different. I saw Arrival Monday night, which means it’s undoubtedly just a bit too soon to declare it a science-fiction classic. Given that we’re finally (finally, finally) coming to the end of 2016, though, it’s probably fair to declare it this: One of the bright points, and one of the greatest movies, of this horrible, awful year. It’s also likely the best film yet from Denis Villeneuve, the director behind the excellent Sicario and Prisoners—and who, with Arrival, offers something entirely different. Arrival is an ominous, thrumming, beautiful thing that starts out being about aliens who need a decoder ring. It ends up being about something quite different. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
B-Movie Bingo: Never Too Young to Die
Your monthly opportunity to literally check off a bingo card full of B-movie clichés—but good luck remembering to even play the game while hypnotized by the intense animal majesty of John Stamos in Never Too Young to Die. Stamos is some sort of butt-rock James Bond, with Vanity as his his sexy sidekick, doing their heavy metal best to stop the outlandish plans of Gene Simmons as some sort of butt-rock Frank N. Furter. Who needs plot, or quality, or even coherence when you have a sweaty, leather-clad Uncle Jesse filling all five senses, right? BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
Bad Santa 2
A Christmas movie doesn’t have to be that good to make it into the yearly holiday rotation. (Cases in point: Elf. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Love Actually. Don’t @ me.) So when a Christmas movie is just a little bit better than it needs to be, it’s reason to rejoice. After all, we’re gonna be stuck watching the damn thing every year for the rest of our lives, so every little bit counts. Bad Santa is one of those above-average Christmas movies. Bad Santa 2 is not. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
The big hook for Ang Lee’s latest film is that it’s shot in 3D at 120 FPS, and the rock-solid imagery and amazing clarity is advertised as an undeniably transformative experience. Except nobody in Portland is showing it that way, so you’ll have to focus on much more mundane, everyday things like storytelling, and acting, and whether Lee managed to adapt Ben Fountain’s military satire faithfully, or whether he made a mawkish, tear-stained jumble out of it. Not screened for critics. Various Theaters.
Fifth Avenue continues its look at the films of D.W. Griffith, following last week’s screening of his The Birth of a Nation apology (and flop), Intolerance, with this 1919 interracial romance starring Lillian Gish as an abused woman who is emotionally rescued by a Chinese man. Heads up: As this is a 1919 film, the Chinese man is played by a white dude in bad makeup. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
If you know who Christine Chubbuck was, the prospect of watching an entire movie about her may fill you with dread. A Florida TV news reporter, Chubbuck killed herself during a live broadcast in 1974. She was 29. She had a history of depression, and the head of her TV station blamed her suicide on the fact that she was almost 30 and unmarried. This is not the explanation given in Christine, which, in less careful hands, might have been a sexist, lifeless march toward death. Instead, Rebecca Hall delivers a humane, improbably funny performance as a highly competent woman trying to survive depression within a boys’ club where “if it bleeds, it leads” is the MO, and where her work—as a skilled interviewer who covers less sensational local news—is devalued. MEGAN BURBANK Living Room Theaters.
A Christmas Story
It’s the holiday classic that just won’t go away! SEE! A shitty little kid rip his tongue raw on an icy pole! HEAR! The glorious collection of syllables that is “Scut Farkus.” WINCE! At that super-racist scene where they go to the Chinese restaurant! CHEER! As Santa kicks a little kid in the face! Merry Christmas, everyone! Various Theaters.
The Portland premiere of Jeff Ferrell’s revenge film about a serial killer trying to find real love. Director and cast in attendance. Clinton Street Theater.
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.
The Eagle Huntress
The Eagle Huntress looks amazing. The documentary’s images—featuring a grinning 13-year-old Aisholpan Nurgaiv as she holds a splendid eagle half her size—are the stuff of myths. I went in pumped up to see a girl-power/girl-falconer documentary with plenty of big, cool-looking birds, and I was not disappointed. First-time director Otto Bell accomplishes a level of visual beauty we associate with BBC nature specials or, IDK, Lord of the Rings? It’s breathtaking. SUZETTE SMITH Fox Tower 10.
The Edge of Seventeen
Get ready for a classic take on high school experience where all the characters are wealthy in ways we can’t identify with (pools 4 everyone!) and played by 30-year-olds (not creepy to find them attractive, whew!). Edge of Seventeen proposes we accept well-timed, adorable stammering as signs that these characters are weird. None of us ever sounded this good. BUT this is produced by James L. Brooks, so even though a lot of it is sanitized and the ending is slapped on, I liked the jokes. The sins of John Hughs are passed down to first-time director Kelly Fremon Craig, who writes a smokin’ hot Korean-American guy (Hayden Szeto) as a runner-up love interest to a medium-for-Hollywood white dude (Alexander Calvert). PLEASE STOP DOING THAT SHIT. Otherwise I’m giving you a pass, Craig. Do better on the next one. SUZETTE SMITH Various Theaters.
The Exorcist stays pinned to the top of all-time genre best lists not just for the horror of its subject matter, but the horror of its making. Director William Friedkin basically tortured everyone on set, and that desperation comes through in the performances of all involved, including its young, pea soup-gargling star, Linda Blair, who will be in attendance and answering questions about what it was like to tell Max Von Sydow his mother sucks cocks in hell (among other things). Hollywood Theatre.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
“I annoy people,” says Eddie Redmayne in the opening half-hour of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the first in a five-part Harry Potter prequel series. Redmayne ain’t lying. “Annoying” is the perfect term for his portrayal of Fantastic Beasts’ hero, Newt Scamander, a shrugging, slumping sack of stammers and tics. He’s like Doctor Who with gout, and yet—just like the good Doctor in even his lamest incarnations, there’s just enough charm glimmering beneath the surface and shining through the contrivances that you can’t write him off entirely. See? Pretty fucking annoying. BOBBY ROBERTS Various Theaters.
Myanmar’s recent re-opening to outsiders made director Brian Perkins’ latest film possible, using local non-actors to tell the story of four young monks in an abandoned monastery in the middle of nowhere. Director in attendance. Hollywood Theatre.
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.
A Merchant Ivory production of a Marvel Entertainment film, about a lower class duck (voiced by Anthony Hopkins) who finds himself swimming in upper class strange in Edwardian England until—wait. Wait, that’s not right, is it? Cinema 21.
In a world where we’re always connected—to a sometimes-frightening degree—there’s an added value to truly foreign experiences. We travel to get out of our ordinary environment, and we’re generally thrilled by how vast the differences are. Take comfort, then, in the strangeness found in Japanese Currents—the annual NW Film Center-hosted overview of noteworthy and contemporary Japanese films. It’s proof that the internet hasn’t succeeded (yet) in drumming out the idiosyncrasies of culture. MARJORIE SKINNER NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
The Long Day Closes
Terence Davies’ 1992 classic, a sort of “emotional biography” of the director’s growing up poor and gay in 1950s Liverpool. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
The Love Witch
While it might be fun in a theater full of film nerds (or witches!), The Love Witch otherwise ends up being a bit of a slog. KJERSTIN JOHNSON Living Room Theaters.
This is a heck of a time for a movie like Loving. The historical drama/romance, from director Jeff Nichols, examines the lives of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial Virginia couple who were jailed for their marriage, and who won a 1967 Supreme Court case that declared any existing laws prohibiting interracial marriages as unconstitutional. It’s a story of civil rights, of the power and persistence of love, of the victory of human decency over hatred and prejudice. It’s positively brimming with the type of hope America needs right now. And it’s... kind of boring. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
You know those movies you used to see at the video store, back when video stores were a thing? Where a whole bunch of actors you really like were all badly photoshopped onto the same cover and you were like “How the hell did I miss that Morgan Freeman, Val Kilmer, and Justin Timberlake were all in a movie together? That had to have been big news, right?” And then you’d rent it and after 10 minutes you’d go “Oh wow, this is a goddamned turd that only exists to be someone’s tax writeoff?” Starring Shia LaBeouf, Gary Oldman, Jai Courney, and Kate Mara. Bridgeport Village Stadium 18.
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.
If you need hope for the next generation, look no further than Disney’s latest. Moana provides a great message for little girls (and grown ones) in a time when their feminine power and the sanctity of the environment are under threat. JENNI MOORE Various Theaters
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 Various Theaters
No Pay, Nudity
Gabriel Byrne plays a down-on-his-luck actor who, with the help of his friends Frances Conroy and Nathan Lane, struggles to rediscover his spark while going up for King Lear in Dayton, Ohio. We can’t tell you whether you actually see Byrne’s wang, but with that title, and a tagline like “A film about hanging out, hanging in, and hanging on,” it seems a cruel bit of trolling to deny such a treat to the 15-or-so old folks who will see this for the week it’s in theaters. Living Room Theaters.
Fashion-designer-turned-director Tom Ford’s second film (and his first since 2009’s A Single Man) looks great, and the story is intriguing and disturbing. But the movie’s a downer, and it has the misfortune of showing up in theaters exactly when we really don’t need a downer—especially one about the emotional scars of rich, well-dressed white people. MARC MOHAN Fox Tower 10.
A Road Suited to the Times
A unique opportunity to see how people watched movies before movies were movies, with the Oregon Historical Society showing how the Columbia River Highway was built via hand-colored lantern slides and a special projector. Hollywood Theatre.
Rules Don’t Apply
TV may get all the shine nowadays, but old-fashioned movie-star charisma goes a long way. Case in point: Warren Beatty, who’s returned to movies after a 15-year hiatus. He wrote, directed, and stars in Rules Don’t Apply, a wholly fictitious movie about billionaire Howard Hughes (Beatty) that foregrounds a forbidden romance between two of Hughes’ employees, starlet-in-the-making Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins) and her driver Frank Forbes (Alden Ehrenreich). Narratively, the movie’s a mess. But like a bowl of melted ice cream—in this case, Hughes’ preferred flavor, Baskin-Robbins’ Banana Nut—it’s still pretty delicious. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
Sonic Cinema: One More Time with Feeling
Nick Cave narrates his creative process while perservering through personal tragedy in this documentary about the making of his latest album, Skeleton Key. Hollywood Theatre.
The word “genius” gets batted around with regard to filmmakers with a numbing, reductive frequency. But if Hayao Miyazaki doesn’t qualify for that title, who does? Miyazaki has blazed his own distinct trail, blending atomic-clock action timing with an awe-inspiring, hand-rendered sense of the infinite; nobody else can balance exhilarating weightlessness with moral gravity in quite the same proportions. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
Things to Come
Mia Hansen-Løve directs Isabelle Huppert as a philosophy teacher who, in a very brief amount of time, loses her job, loses her mother, and finds out her husband is cheating on her. Reinvention ensues. Living Room 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 Academy Theater.
A digital restoration The Wanderers, a little-seen coming-of-age tale from unsung hero of ’70s cinema Philip Kaufman, adapted from Richard Price’s novel, starring Ken Wahl as the charismatic leader of a Bronx greaser gang. Hollywood Theatre.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, December 2-Thursday, December 8, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.