B-Movie Bingo: Escape from L.A.
Your monthly opportunity to literally check off a bingo card full of B-movie clichés! This month, a challenge to acolytes of both Kurt Russell and John Carpenter, two men whose prior collaborations have inspired undying gratitude in the hearts of film fans for genre treasures like Escape from New York, The Thing, and Big Trouble in Little China. And then... then there’s the campy, misguided, scattershot trashterpiece that is 1996’s Escape from L.A.. Is the tsunami of shitty cliches Carpenter keeps crashing against your eyeballs satire or ineptitude? That’s for you and your sure-to-be-filled bingo card to figure out. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary
The world has long deserved a comprehensive documentary into the life and career of jazz pioneer John Coltrane. Chasing Trane is a fine first attempt. Director John Scheinfeld does a fantastic job laying out the history of the late saxophonist, showing his startling artistic evolution—from backing up Dizzy and Miles to daring modal and experimental works—via a wealth of interviews (McCoy Tyner! Cornel West! Bill Clinton?) and performance footage. The filmmakers can’t seem to help themselves though, overusing animation and adding in all kinds of unnecessary touches—like the sound effects of an explosion to accompany the discussion of the 1963 bombing of a church in Birmingham, Alabama. ROBERT HAM Cinema 21.
James Ponsoldt’s adaptation of Dave Eggers’ 2013 novel boasts a great cast (Emma Watson! John Boyega! Tom Hanks! Beck?) and an increasingly timely premise: A young professional (Watson) scores a job at the illustrious, world-spanning social network the Circle... only to find things might be more sinister than they appear. (If you’re guessing the Circle is a stand-in for Facebook, congrats on guessing the easiest guess there ever was.) There only seem to be two problems with this adaptation: First, The Circle is the worst novel Eggers has written—so confused in tone that it’s impossible to tell if it’s dark satire, an earnest cautionary tale, or a too-old-for-Snapchat dude shaking his fist at millennials—and second, the film’s distributor straight-up refused to show it to critics. Maybe see what people are saying about it on Twitter before buying a ticket. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
A romantic comedy about a woman, Gloria (Anne Hathaway), who flees from New York City back to her rustic hometown, where she bumps into a guy (Jason Sudeikis) she used to know. It’s also a movie about a giant monster wreaking havoc on downtown Seoul. It’s two great tastes that go great together—especially once we learn that Gloria has an unexplained connection to the kaiju in question, able to somehow control its movements from half a world away. This sort of genre tweaking is nothing new to director Nacho Vigalondo. It all makes sense eventually, or at least as much sense as it needs to. MARC MOHAN Various Theaters.
Contact Dance Film Festival
NW Film Center and Bodyvox join forces to present new collaborations between filmmakers, dancers, and choreographers. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
David Lynch: The Art Life
There aren’t any log-toting ladies or gas-huffing psychopaths in David Lynch: The Art Life—but it has the dreamer of the delightful oddities in Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet, and Mulholland Drive. This documentary features the 71-year-old director/artist in his sunny outdoor studio creating countless pieces of fine art, fiddling with latex and dollops of paint and cursing to himself when his drill doesn’t cooperate, all while his tiny daughter Lula keeps him company. To soundtrack the long stretches of Lynch smoking and sitting, he tells stories of his childhood in the Pacific Northwest, art school in Philadelphia, and his rise as a cult director with 1977’s Eraserhead. It’s a fascinating look into living the art life with a wonderful and weird artist. COURTNEY FERGUSON Cinema 21.
Wyrd War Presents: Eyes of Fire
A hidden treasure of ’80s horror, lost for decades in moldy stacks of cheap VHS, resurrected in 35mm, and telling the Lovecraftian story of a shitty preacher stranding his followers in a forest so haunted it makes Sam Raimi’s little cabin in the woods look like the house on Pooh corner. Hollywood Theatre.
The Fate of the Furious
In these dark days, I would like nothing more than to bring light to your life by telling you all the amazing things in this movie, but I don’t want to spoil it, so I will only tell you a few things. There are prison guards who make the mistake of shooting the Rock with rubber bullets—rubber bullets that the Rock returns. Robot cars take over Manhattan! Submarine?? Car racing! Computer hacking, which is like car racing for fingers! Charlize Theron as a James Bond villain! Kurt Russell crackin’ jokes! Ludacris and Tyrese, also crackin’ jokes! The deadly glare of Dame Helen Mirren. Russia (timely). Michelle Rodriguez Michelle Rodriguezing it up! The spine-chilling phrase “Dominic Toretto has just gone rogue.” (I know.) A single glittering tear that trembles down Vin Diesel’s cheek and grants immortality. A shocking secret involving a BABY? ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
“You know what? Fuck the small talk. Let’s buy some guns, eh?” So speaketh Chris (Cillian Murphy) right at the start of Free Fire. It’s a compelling argument. So: Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Run Through the Jungle” hits the speakers. A motley, inept crew of criminals strides into a rundown, rubble-strewn warehouse. And then the bullets start flying, and the blood starts spurting, and the jokes start rolling, and Free Fire gets going. It doesn’t let up for 90 minutes. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
So many questions with Goodfellas. Is it Scorsese’s best movie? Is it better than The Godfather? Is it the best mafia movie ever? It’s definitely Ray Liotta’s best movie, right? Can you even cut garlic so thin with a razor blade that it just liquefies in the pan? How is that possible? How many times do you think you’ll shout “Oh shit it’s that one dude from The Sopranos!” before whoever you’re watching with punches your shoulder and tells you to shut the fuck up already? Is there anything funnier than Morrie’s wig falling off his melon-head while Robert De Niro chokes him with a phone cord? That last one has an answer. That answer is no. BOBBY ROBERTS Laurelhurst Theater.
The latest morality tale from Romanian director Cristian Mungiu may move slowly, but that’s only because he doesn’t want us to miss one second of gut-wrenching unease. The chief instigator and recipient of the distress in Graduation is Romeo (Adrian Titieni), a middle-aged doctor who, after his daughter is assaulted, goes to great lengths to ensure she can still pass her college entrance exams. A supposedly selfless decision, it starts in motion a series of events that chips away at the carefully cultivated existence he has maintained for far too long. Mungiu forces us to recognize our own failings and to question whether we should be celebrating, or wincing, at Romeo’s unraveling. ROBERT HAM Living Room Theaters.
Graphic Means: A History of Graphic Design Production
A documentary focused on the history of the graphic design industry, starting in the romanticized days of paste-up boards and moving through to when computers came along and changed the world forever. Director in attendance. Hollywood Theatre.
The Lost City of Z
Percival Fawcett’s name may be nothing more than an eerie coincidence, but writer/director James Gray doesn’t it treat it like one, even though his Percival was unquestionably real. “Percy” is the protagonist of Gray’s astonishing film The Lost City of Z; he’s a British officer tasked with mapping the border between Bolivia and Brazil during the first years of the 20th century. Like Arthur’s knight Percival—who spent decades obsessively seeking the Holy Grail—Z’s Percy becomes consumed by a quest that promises him glory back home until it swallows him altogether. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
This Is Your Theater: Mulholland Drive
Time to revisit David Lynch’s 2001 film, yeah? Lynch’s films get richer and more nuanced the more times they’re viewed. (Face it, you didn’t like whiskey the first time you tried it, either—and now look at you.) COURTNEY FERGUSON Hollywood Theatre.
Portland EcoFilm Festival: Filming the Fossil Fuel Resistance
See Film, this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
The Promise has been marketed as a romance set against the backdrop of the fall of the Ottoman Empire. So hey, pop quiz: Do you guys remember what happened during the fall of the Ottoman Empire? Answer: the Armenian genocide. Yeah—not a great time for romance, and definitely not a great setting for an awkward attempt at a romantic film. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
Yes, there was a fairly bland remake of this film that came and went a couple years ago. Before that there were some questionable appearances on the pro wrestling circuit by Officer Murphy. Before that there was a seriously ill-advised Saturday morning cartoon series, a run of TV movies, and two shitty sequels. But standing tall above that river of trash, proud and shiny, is the 1987 original, a pitch-black comedy that blends satire and violence to mock American excess and naked capitalism while also telling the story of a man fighting to regain a shred of the humanity taken from him by a corrupt corporate oligarchy. Always watchable, enjoyable, quotable, and sadly, even 30 years later, socially relevant. Maybe even moreso, now. BOBBY ROBERTS Academy Theater.
Song of Love
Edmund Stone, the effortlessly charming host of All Classical Portland’s The Score, introduces this screening of the 1947 classic, starring Katharine Hepburn as Clara Schumann, caught between tending to her unhealthy husband while fending off the romantic advances of Johannes Brahms. Hollywood Theatre.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, April 28-Thursday, May 4, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.