Yes, Casablanca is a bonafide classic. The name conjures up notions of prestige and film nobility. It’s the worst possible thing that could have happened to Casablanca. The movie is a classic because it’s not a stuffy, high-minded piece of cinema with a capital “C.” It’s low-budget, tossed-off studio leftovers, and that’s why its genius is so remarkable. Don’t think of it as attending movie church. Leave your reverence in the lobby. Casablanca sure as hell doesn’t have any time for that shit. Instead, think of it as the half-improvised, made-up-as-they-went, seat-of-the-pants production that took studio spare parts and made some potent movie magic. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
Imagine an attempt at a social media satire where the main character takes the entire movie to realize sharing all of your personal information online might be bad. You’ll end up with The Circle, a cautionary tale for grandpas who think robots steal their medicine. It’s shocking that a movie starring Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega, Patton Oswalt, Glenne Headly, and Bill Paxton and written by Dave Eggers could be so bad, but The Circle is a complete whiff—a movie that doesn’t work at all from the first five minutes on, whose execution is as bad as its concept. Watson’s Mae gets a new job at a big tech company where her boss (Hanks) is developing a kind of all-seeing-eye webcam, the monitors on her desk keep multiplying, and she’s unofficially judged by her “partiscore,” an algorithm-based measure of how much she socializes with her coworkers. Orwell already did the all-seeing eye thing, and “partiscore” is essentially “flair” from Office Space. Which means that for all its zeitgeisty affectations, The Circle’s most contemporary update is Watson herself, who fails to offer any emotional depth beyond pout-frown and pout-confused. VINCE MANCINI Various Theaters.
Oh shit, it’s Turk from Scrubs! Oh hey, it’s Jon from those execrable Garfield movies! Oh no, it’s that crazy Fox News lady that Chris Rock used as a prop at the Oscars one year! Aww damn, there’s Brittany Murphy, it’s a shame she’s not still here, I bet she’d have been one hell of an award-winning weirdo by now. Oh hey, it’s Paul Rudd and holy fuck why hasn’t he aged a single second, that’s not fair! That’s not fair at all. Academy Theater.
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 Cinema 21, Hollywood Theatre.
The Dark Crystal
The Gelflings might be the most annoying Muppets in history. With their dreamfasting and Skeksis baiting, Jen and Kira are the only two inhabitants of Thra who can tolerate each other—with everyone else electing to leave this mortal coil by throwing themselves upon the merciful lobster claws of the Gathim. COURTNEY FERGUSON Fifth Avenue Cinema.
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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
An adaptation of the best-selling Dutch novel about two couples, meeting over dinner, to discuss what to do after their teenage sons are caught on camera committing a violent act. The dinner does not go well, providing plenty of opportunities for Laura Linney, Rebecca Hall, Steve Coogan, and Richard Gere to become the ham they behold. Not screened for critics. 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.
Kung Fu Theater: The Mystery of Chess Boxing
This month’s installment in Dan Halsted’s ongoing celebration of all things whoop-ass is the only known 35mm print of The Mystery of Chess Boxing, an all-time kung fu classic responsible for introducing the Ghostface Killer, a villainous master who runs his mouth as effectively as he throws his hands, berating and beating enemies to death. The only way to defeat him? Incorporate the genius-level strategies of chess into your fighting. It’s no wonder this heady-yet-lowdown-and-dirty kung fu flick was such an inspiration to a crew of kids on Staten Island in the ’80s—kids who would grow up and rule ’90s hip-hop as the Wu Tang Clan. BOBBY ROBERTS 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 Hollywood Theatre.
Match Cut Movie Club
A mystery screening series: Buy a ticket, be surprised. Past selections have included George Lucas’ American Graffiti, the Shane Black-penned The Long Kiss Goodnight, and John Sayles’ Lone Star. More at matchcutmovieclub.com. Living Room Theaters.
My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea
I saw Dash Shaw’s animated feature film My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea at last year’s Portland International Film Festival, where I was pleased to see the personable humor and torsion of reality that I always expect from his work. Shaw is a well-respected indie comics artist whose graphic novels, like Bottomless Belly Button and Cosplayers, mix entertaining, well-written stories with cool ideas that threaten to conceptually blow the doors off the whole biz. My Entire High School—which features voice work from the likes of Reggie Watts, Lena Dunham, Susan Sarandon, and Maya Rudolph—finds teenagers facing a couple of different disasters. SUZETTE SMITH Various Theaters.
NW Animation Festival
The annual NW Animation Festival is back, offering a week’s worth of talks, events, and a curated lineup of animated shorts from all over the world. SUZETTE SMITH Hollywood Theatre.
Director Laura Poitras follows Citizenfour with a look at infamous leaker and alleged rapist Julian Assange. Filmed over the course of six years, Risk examines the power struggles and contradictions amongst those in Wikileaks’ inner circle, and it wasn’t screened for critics. Cinema 21.
Stand by Me
I never understood why Oregonians built an entire cottage industry around worshipping the annoyingly shrill and hyperactive ’80s “classic” The Goonies when just one year after that thin, cloying mess of a film opened, Stand by Me was released—a smaller-scale Oregon adventure with a much better story, starring much better actors, breathing life into much deeper characters, stirring emotional notes much more varied than Goonies’ two-note dirge of “AAAAAH” and “EWWWWW!” But if I had to guess why Stand by Me—despite being a better film than The Goonies in every measurable aspect—doesn’t have annual festivals in its name, it’s probably because Lard-Ass hosting tours of the barf-o-rama tent and/or the watering hole where Wil Wheaton had leeches stuck to his balls doesn’t sound very enticing in a tourism pamphlet. BOBBY ROBERTS Laurelhurst Theater.
Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Dark Side of Dimensions
I’m sure someone you know knows what the fuck a fucking Yu-Gi-Oh! is. So you can let ’em know this movie is out and they can go watch it now. But be careful, because they might try to hold a conversation with you afterwards about whatever the fuck this bullshit is, at which point you have two choices: Suffer their interminable chattering until they tucker themselves out, or walk into traffic and headbutt the nearest speeding vehicle. Yu-Gi-Oh! Hollywood Theatre.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, May 5-Thursday, May 11, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.