Before I Fall
Before I Fall hits the necessary marks for a teen movie: It’s got a sophisticated enough conceit adults will like, an actor who can emote (Zoey Deutch), and a good soundtrack (Grimes!). I was thoroughly sold on its Groundhog Day gambit almost all the way through, although the movie’s ethos definitely holds a teenage girl to a higher moral standard than Bill Murray, which seems unfair. MEGAN BURBANK Various Theaters.
Big Trouble in Little China
With a title that mirrors the poeticism of a POTUS tweet, this 1986 classic is a comic book come to life filled with martial arts, monsters, magic, and Kurt Russell in a tank top saying cheesy shit like, “I was born ready!” and “Son of a bitch must pay!” BRI BREY Laurelhurst Theater.
Burlesque: Heart of the Glitter Tribe
Our city, revered (or not) for its abundance of strip clubs, has a whole other thriving culture of guys and gals (and gender nonconforming folks, too) who take their clothes off for crowds: burlesque! I’ve always thought of burlesque as what grown-up theater kids do when they want to be sexy but can’t find a production of Cabaret; after watching Burlesque: Heart of the Glitter Tribe, a new documentary about the scene in Portland, I know there’s more to it than that. The featured performers come to burlesque from all walks of life, and pour their time, sweat, and money into the craft. While those backstories are interesting, the performance footage is where it’s at. I was mesmerized. It’s not all old-timey smut and fishnets and tiny top hats! Did you know “assels” are a thing? They’re like titty tassels, but for buttcheeks. Knowledge is power, friends. Anyway, when so many of us grumble about artists being priced out of Portland, it’s nice to celebrate the folks that are still here, doing their thing. Portland’s got some perks. Some of them have tassels. ELINOR JONES Living Room Theaters, On Demand.
Fifty Shades Darker
At one point during the screening, the chatty lady behind me blurted out, “OH, SO WE’RE NOT STICKING TO THE BOOK AT ALL.” She sounded mad? So if you care, there you have it. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
ARE YOU A PUSSY? NO! FIST FIGHT TIME. FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! PUNCH! FIGHT! WHO’S A BITCH? YOU’RE A BITCH! AND A PUSSY. MEN ARE PUSSIES AND BITCHES. I’M GONNA FIGHT YOU IN FRONT OF EVERYBODY. NUTS DROPPING. AGGRESSIVE BLACK MAN = FUNNY TROPE OR IRONIC REFLECTION? TRACY MORGAN CAN PUNCH TOO. OR ARE RACE RELATIONS IN FIST FIGHT PERHAPS PRESENTING A LARGER SOCIAL MESSAGE? NO! DON’T BE A PUSSY! ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
Friday Film Club: The Night of the Hunter
“Salvation is a last-minute business” in The Night of the Hunter, Charles Laughton’s 1955 noir about a “reverend” (Robert Mitchum) with L-O-V-E and H-A-T-E knuckle tats who woos and brutally murders Appalachian widows for their money. (Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing references his iconic ink.) But this faux-zealot meets his match in one widow’s young son, who refuses to tell him where his dad hid a $10k fortune. Creepy hymns! Egg-headed kids! Long tracking shots! It’s a mildly spooky watch. At one point the narrative goes off-roading into confusing moralistic territory, but the reverend reels you in with convincing charm. He even announces “I can feel myself gettin’ awful mad” in a transatlantic accent that’ll make you think you’re watching It’s a Wonderful Life—until the murder, that is! Screens as part of the NW Film Center’s Friday Film Club series, featuring a post-film discussion. CIARA DOLAN NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
Before Hidden Figures, I had no idea three Black women were integral to the success of America’s space program. That’s not the only surprise here: Even the film’s title has a double meaning, referring to both the unheralded women who helped us catch up in the space race, and the calculations that were missing before their contributions. Spending much of its runtime dealing with issues that persist today—segregation, racism and sexism in the workplace—Hidden Figures focuses on the Black women who had to balance being tenacious and docile in order to get ahead, even as they were underestimated and undervalued every step of the way. JENNI MOORE Various Theaters.
This documentary about Istanbul’s sizable stray cat population is so full of kindness and warmth that it’s like jumping into a pile of freshly-laundered bedding just pulled out of the dryer, or floating around in a slightly stoned bubble bath, or, I don’t know, being a kitten? The squee opportunities are abundant, but what doesn’t appear on-screen is as important as what does. To describe Kedi as an extended cat video is to ignore the sociopolitical context of the city where the cats live—context that’s only hinted at in statements from the locals, but that adds poignant sophistication and an ever-present emotional core to a documentary some will dismiss as lighthearted entertainment. MEGAN BURBANK Cinema 21.
Kung Fu Theater: Seven Grandmasters
Every fight scene in this 1978 martial arts classic will make you say, “What in the actual fuck just happened?” It has everything you could ask for in a kung fu flick: bad voiceovers, avenged deaths, teachers at the edge of retirement, stolen martial arts secrets, and did I mention those seriously insane fight scenes? BRI BREY Hollywood Theatre.
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.
Mr. Gaga: A True Story of Love and Dance
This documentary weaves together the life of contemporary dance choreographer Ohad Naharin—a childhood in a kibbutz, life in New York City’s modern dance scene in the ’70s and ’80s, a partnership with American dancer Mari Kajiwara, and return to Israel to head the now-renowned Batsheva Dance Company—with mesmerizing footage of dancers performing his striking work. Naharin is known for his “Gaga” pedagogy as much as his dance, where he empowers the dancer (or the average person—Narahin didn’t train or “become” a dancer until his early 20s) to bring themselves to the choreographer’s prescribed moves. Like his dancers’ performances, it’s hard to explain, but arresting to watch. KJERSTIN JOHNSON Living Room Theaters.
My Own Private Idaho
Imagine you’re Gus Van Sant in the early 1990s. You’ve living in Portland, you’re fascinated with the grime and grunge of the city. You’ve got three partially formed ideas for screenplays: one based on Shakespeare’s Henry IV, one about a young man trying to find his mother, and one about a narcoleptic sex worker with the face of an angel. Well, Early ’90s Gus Van Sant, mash those ideas together into one problematic-but-somehow-still-charming script and call Keanu! You’re about to make My Own Private Idaho! Don’t blink during this dreamy meander, or you might miss some beautiful PNW scenery, Keanu struggling through vaguely Shakespearean dialogue, Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, or a single second of River Phoenix’s beautiful face. BRI BREY Academy Theater.
Ollin: Social Justice Film Series
A film series presented by the Latino Network, “dedicated to exploring social justice themes through film” and featuring post-screening panel discussions. This week’s film: Salt of the Earth, based on a 1951 New Mexico miners’ strike. Considered one of the first films to interject feminist ideas into the post-war era of Hollywood communism, Salt of the Earth (1954) is a didactic but charming drama about workers uniting for a good old-fashioned miner’s strike. After being blacklisted as one of the Hollywood Ten in 1947—and stripped of his Director’s Guild of America membership for refusing to answer questions about his involvement with the Communist party—director Herbert Biberman further showed his commie salt by casting actual miners and their families as actors in this film. There is singing. SUZETTE SMITH Hollywood Theatre.
Queer Commons: AWOL
Figuring out what you want to do with your life is hard. Figuring it out when you’re a small-town Pennsylvania lesbian who’s in love with a welfare queen is way harder. AWOL, this month’s installment of the Hollywood’s Queer Commons series, is beautifully shot, capturing the banality of everyday rural life and the ire of forbidden love. While the film struggles at times—forcing its lessons about the diversity of the queer community—it’s ultimately about finding yourself, disappointing your parents, and being an idiot when you’re 19—themes everyone can relate to. BRI BREY Hollywood Theatre.
In this classic 1992 caper, a colorful group of dreamers comes together to get rich—but when their plans hit a snag, they have no choice but to work together to solve a mystery! The leading lads are as quick-witted as they are stylish, and over several cups of coffee, a lot of talking, a lot of laughs, and even a little dancing, they learn about honesty, loyalty, and a man’s priorities in life. It’s no wonder that starry-eyed young men in dorm rooms across America continue to gaze up at this film’s poster, proving once and for all the power of friendship and fun! ELINOR JONES Hollywood Theatre.
Shut Up Anthony
Tim (Jon Titterington) and Anthony (Robert A. E’Esposito) are sad rich white guys crashing in their families’ shared vacation home to avoid dealing with some personal shit, and boy are they ever insufferable. Shut Up Anthony is the kind of movie that gets described as annoying if it stars women and profound if it’s about men. (Think Lena Dunham vs. Llewyn Davis.) Unlikeability is only considered a problem if we’re talking about women, which is a shame, because the two leads in this movie are so fucking irritating—especially fucking Tim OMFG—that I wanted to throw my laptop across the room. Portland director Kyle Eaton’s film is well-paced and beautifully shot, with an excellent assortment of local music on the soundtrack, and ultimately, it holds together as quiet little portrait of despair. There are also a lot of endearing appearances from local comedians and actors. But you couldn’t pay me to watch it again. MEGAN BURBANK Hollywood Theatre.
Singin’ in the Rain
It’s the 1920s in Los Angeles, and Hollywood up-and-comer Kathy Selden has come to make a name at a studio. Instead, she’s going to have to save it. Within this sound stage high above the city, 12 terrorists have declared war. They’re as brilliant as they are ruthless. Now, the last thing Selden wants is to be a hero, but she doesn’t have a choice. She’s an easy woman to like, and a hard woman to kill. Debbie Reynolds in: Singin’ in the Rain. Yippe-ki-yay, motherfuckers. ELINOR JONES Hollywood Theatre.
Everyone rags on director M. Night Shyamalan for being a one-trick pony. But guys, he’s so much more than that! His films can be pretty great (2000’s Unbreakable) or they can be embarrassing garbage (2015’s adult-diaper-filled The Visit). That’s two whole tricks! With Split, he’s back to vintage Shyamasurprise® Time, and the result is a fairly solid thriller with only a few missteps. Not bad, sir, not bad. COURTNEY FERGUSON Various Theaters.
Though Table 19 hammers home the theme that everyone is a goddamn mess—and while some of its jokes, stunts, and twists are clever enough to hold one’s attention—at its core it’s a typical, gooey romcom. Good thing Anna Kendrick is in it, then—her involvement ends up being crucial to the film’s watchability. JENNI MOORE Various Theaters.
A United Kingdom
A United Kingdom is packaged as a romance: The film’s poster shows an embracing interracial couple gazing out over an African sunset. And it is a romance, in that it’s about a man and a woman and they’re in love. But it’s different from your standard will-they-or-won’t-they because they get married within the first few minutes. It’s what happens next—colonialism! racism! history!—that gives the movie its guts. And some heart, too. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
Wyrd War Presents: River’s Edge
They don’t give awards for being a mute, nude corpse lying immobile in the grass while suburban teenage eccentric Layne (Crispin Glover) stands over your body ranting. But something about how the cold blue stare of Jamie (Danyi Deats) reproaches the camera makes you feel like she deserves one. River’s Edge premiered in 1986, but the the film’s haunting script—based on a real murder and real shocked/apathetic teens—and strong performances from its starlet cast (Keanu Reeves, Ione Skye, and Glover) help it resonate just as strongly 30 years later. Actor Daniel Roebuck in attendance. SUZETTE SMITH Hollywood Theatre.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, March 10-Thursday, March 16, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.