A bloody, squealing, somewhat satisfying rehash. Covenant’s victory is minor—after 25 years, the Alien series has finally managed to make a movie that, however slightly, is better than 1992’s Alien3. The question is whether the beast will uncoil and move forward, or remain content to suck on itself like a pacifier. BOBBY ROBERTS Various Theaters.
Church of Film
A monthly series shining a light on some of cinema’s more experimental and forgotten films. Clinton Street 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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
Constructing Identity: Black Cinema Then and Now
The NW Film Center’s retrospective on the varied voices of Black cinema, including key works by Julie Dash, Spencer Williams, and Spike Lee, all doing their part to show Black identity in ways not typically exhibited on American movie screens. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul
There’s been three of these things already? Jesus. They still make Land Before Time movies though, so I guess four Wimpy Kid flicks isn’t all that remarkable. Various Theaters.
The Portland that Gus Van Sant documented in the ’80s and ’90s is gone. Watching Drugstore Cowboy is like playing bingo with the past: that’s where Satyricon used to be; there’s a sports bar on that corner now; that street’s name has changed. (It’s probably annoying for recent transplants to constantly hear about the rough old years in Portland; it’s also annoying for longtime residents to no longer be able to afford to live here, so it cuts both ways.) We’ll never be closer to the Portland that Van Sant captured than we are at this moment, though, so now is as good a time as any to revisit it. ALISON HALLETT Laurelhurst Theater.
Dumb and Dumber
Not all dumb is created equal, and the best sort of dumb takes a lot of smarts to execute correctly. Chuck Jones knew it, and that’s why his Looney Tunes shorts are timeless. The Jackass crew knew it, and that’s why their symphonies of stupidity are still remembered fondly. The Farrelly Brothers used to know this (they lost their handle on sublime stupidity and just kinda suck out loud now), and 1994’s Dumb and Dumber is a giant in the genre of Stupid Cinema; a burping, screeching, shambling, pants-shitting perpetual larf machine, fueled by Jim Carrey at the height of his rubberfaced powers, and the still-astounding self-debasement of Jeff Daniels. BOBBY ROBERTS Academy Theater.
Escape From New York
John Carpenter has made better movies than this over his long and incredibly varied career, and he’s definitely made worse (cough—Ghosts of Mars—cough cough), but 1981’s Escape From New York could be the most Carpenter of all Carpenter’s films, the one most consistently peppered with the director’s signature touches. If, by some weird happenstance, you haven’t seen one of his films before (that’s crazy), Escape is the best introduction, primarily due to Kurt Russell’s career-defining performance as Snake Plissken. BOBBY ROBERTS Mission Theater.
An Evening with Kathy Kasic
The nature documentarian and founding director for the Center for the Communication of Science at Montana State University presents a program of new documentary shorts created during her residence at Tippet Rise Art Center. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
What if The Boy in the Plastic Bubble had access to the internet? Teen romance Everything, Everything provides answers to that and a slew of far less interesting questions through a racially diverse, tech-savvy update to the 1976 made-for-TV classic (this time based on a bestselling YA novel by Nicola Yoon). Amandla Stenberg—who stole the spotlight as Rue in The Hunger Games—stars as a girl who’s allergic to everything, maintaining her health by never leaving her compulsively clean and hermetically sealed home. She glides through her sterile environment wearing shades of white and pale blue. She is romantic, poetic, and far deeper than girls who have left their houses. But Everything, Everything and The Boy in the Plastic Bubble share a truly interesting premise: how much do you compromise your health for your happiness? Unfortunately, they also share cop-out endings. SPOILER ALERT: Both solve the dilemma by declaring the illness irrelevant/nonexistent. Everything, Everything does it in a more dramatic, twist-ending type reveal, but they’re equally lazy. JULIA RABAN Various Theaters.
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.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
If you enjoyed the first Guardians, you’ll love the second, even if the shiny veneer of newness has dulled somewhat. However, the standard problems with Marvel Studios’ movies remain: They jam in too many characters, so none get the solid fleshing out they deserve, and the self-referential Marvel Easter eggs are, at this point, solidly annoying. That being said, stack Vol. 2 up against the dour tubs of crap put out by DC (hello, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), and it’s pretty clear my quibbles are of the smallest variety. The music is uniformly great, the jokes are whip-smart and delightful, the action scenes are exciting CG works of art, the characters are identifiable and lovable, and BABY GROOT IS GODDAMN ADORABLE. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
Hecklevision: The Garbage Pail Kids Movie
An opportunity to turn your phone into a weapon of textual comedic destruction, aimed directly at... at whatever the fuck this ungainly, gross, ridiculous cultural dingleberry is. Explaining how The Garbage Pail Kids Movie fits into the context of the 1980s isn’t even worth it, and honestly, the “film” will probably play better without any knowledge of what it’s supposed to be (badly) parodying. If the recent return of Twin Peaks hasn’t fucked your head thoroughly, sitting down for a screening of this nightmarish horseshit as an unending torrent of texted one-liners scrolls up the screen oughta do it. 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 Various Theaters.
Stealing the plot of Tom Stoppard’s OG infidelity play The Real Thing, the Lovers are Mary (Debra Winger) and Michael (Tracy Letts), unhappily married baby boomers who are cheating on each other, and then start cheating on their ~*vaguely artsy*~ sidepieces with... each other! How zany! How unexpected! How sad to waste the talents of Winger and Letts on such a thin premise! MEGAN BURBANK Hollywood Theatre.
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An unvarnished, proudly geeky look at the history of the newspaper obituary and the deadline-plagued reporters responsible (with a heartbreaking segment on David Foster Wallace). ANDREW WRIGHT Cinema 21.
Director João Pedro Rodrigues tells the story of a man kayaking in Portugal who capsizes, is saved by Chinese Christian pilgrims, and then undergoes a metaphysical and spiritual transformation as he moves through the region’s psychedelic landscape. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
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? Since making his directorial debut with 1979’s The Castle of Cagliostro, Miyazaki has blazed his own distinct trail, blending atomic-clock action timing with an awe-inspiring, hand-rendered sense of the infinite. Mononoke isn’t just one more example of that balance, it’s maybe the best example. ANDREW WRIGHT Fifth Avenue Cinema.
A Quiet Passion
Terence Davies’ A Quiet Passion doesn’t do Emily Dickinson justice. The dialogue is strange, uncomfortable, and robotic. Watching the characters interact is akin to watching someone perform a choreographed dance with arms full of cucumbers. You just want it to stop. You need it to stop. At one point, a teenaged Dickinson (Emma Bell) informs her aunt that “Poems are my solace for the eternity that surrounds us all.” WHAT? Sure, it was the 1840s, but I’m pretty sure Emily Dickinson was a human, not a poetry automaton. The adult Dickinson is played by Cynthia Nixon, who does what she can to resuscitate Davies’ otherwise cold, lifeless script. Her attempts are mostly successful, and she does a good job at capturing the poet’s inner storms and contradictions. Dickinson was complicated, and Nixon portrays both her genius and flawed righteousness with equal fervor. Though it’s boring as hell, at least A Quiet Passion isn’t another one-dimensional biopic about a woman. CIARA DOLAN Various Theaters.
Re-run Theater: 1987—The Year in Videos
Every now and again, Re-run Theater takes a break from its classic television necromancy and turns its resurrective powers to the glory days of MTV. For this latest installment, they’re spotlighting the pivotal year of 1987, when the network and the music industry decided to start really gambling on the still-nascent art form of music video—betting heavily on butt rock, hair metal, and the earliest days of hardcore hip-hop. At the time, it was exciting, uncharted territory, and 30 years later, that excitement still comes through—albeit with a little (lot) more cheese than intended. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
A monthly screening series focused on feminist films and intersectional issues. This month: Mi Vida Loca. In Other Words.
The Silence of the Lambs
Time has transformed Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs. In 1990, it was an award-winning thriller. Very quickly it became a collection of pop-culture punchlines. Anthony Hopkins’ lip-smacking Hannibal Lecter became hammy, not horrifying; Buffalo Bill’s menace was memed out of him over a decade ago (“It puts the lotion on its skin” became the chorus to a pop song in 2004). But taken on its own terms, Demme’s masterpiece benefits from a different sort of cultural metamorphosis. Silence is now more than anything a feminist procedural, the existential horror no longer confined to its serial killer storyline, but permeating every interaction Jodie Foster’s Clarice Starling has with every man she comes in contact with. Of course, this stuff was always in the movie—it just took almost 30 years for audiences to stop giggling at Hannibal’s one-liners and catch up to what Demme and Foster were doing. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
Amy Schumer can be A Lot, bordering on Too Much, and in Snatched, she’s just as vapid and ditzy and raunchy as usual, although aside from some mild jizz humor, everything here is relatively tame. It’s a mother/daughter movie that you can take your mother to and not have to avoid eye contact after. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
Hayao Miyazaki’s filmography is an embarrassment of riches, each movie an almost-perfectly sculpted work of magic, wonder, action, and emotion. Spirited Away is the master at his most whimsical—but what separates Miyazaki from most storytellers is that he can (and often does) wield whimsy like a scalpel. Something as airy and light as Spirited Away would be an not much more than an empty confection in even the best director’s hands. But Miyazaki, working without a script (!), weaves a modern fairy tale so affecting that for many, his story of a 10-year-old girl on a mystical journey to free her parents is still the best—and most human—animated film ever made. BOBBY ROBERTS Fifth Avenue Cinema.
Stop Making Sense
“Hi. I have a tape I want to play.” As far as opening lines go, this flat declaration sounds more like something the weirdo who sat behind me in fourth grade would blurt out than a great rock ‘n’ roll entrance. Shot by Jonathan Demme the Talking Heads’ final tour in 1983, Stop Making Sense would never have held up if it was predicated entirely on such subversions. As smart and fun as these aspects are, they exist only to support an incredible performance of equally incredible music. To capture the complexity of their studio work, the band enlisted five additional musicians (including P-Funk keyboardist Bernie Worrell), and the resulting chemistry is almost impossible to discuss without lapsing into hyperbole. CHAS BOWIE Hollywood Theatre.
No one in the history of cinema—nay, in the history of the world—has ever eaten a single grape the way Kelly McGillis eats a grape in this movie. Of all the ridiculous bullshit Tony Scott throws at the screen in this 1986 “classic,” one of the sweatiest, most homoerotic male bonding melodramas of the last 30 years, there is nothing more silly than McGillis tenderly snacking on a single grape for what seems like a half-hour straight. It’s fucking amazing. BOBBY ROBERTS Clinton Street Theater.
The Wind Rises
A flight-crazy young Japanese boy follows his dreams, which lead to some unexpected paths during wartime. Hayao Miyazaki’s directorial swan song has raised some critical hackles for its real-life subject matter, but his combination of seemingly effortless weightlessness and surprising moral gravity feels as entrancing as ever. ANDREW WRIGHT Fifth Avenue Cinema.
Wyrd War Presents: Santa Sangre
Jodorowsky’s 1989 psych-out, and the inspiration for the 1994 classic The Santa Clause. Take drugs. Hollywood Theatre.