47 Meters Down
While vacationing in Mexico, a pair of sisters (Mandy Moore, Claire Holt) try to chase away their romantic blues by climbing inside a rickety cage and getting up close and personal with some boxcar-sized Great Whites. What could go wrong? Oh, many, many things. 47 Meters Down is basically fetish porn for Shark Week junkies, and wastes little time delivering an impressively tense mixture of well-timed shocks, closeups of steadily diminishing air gauges, and moments of no-choice heroism divvied up between the extremely game leads. Unfortunately, the narrative may be a bit too clever for its own good, derailing the movie’s relentless momentum. Still, even if it falls short of the B-movie ingenuity of The Shallows, there are plenty of effective, primal screamy moments here. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
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.
★ Baby Driver
Edgar Wright’s latest is wall-to-wall music, and it might take you a track or two to fall into the stylized rhythm that marks his work—from Shaun of the Dead to Hot Fuzz to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World—and drop-kicks naturalism to the curb. But once its tires grip pavement, Baby Driver becomes a full-throttle ballet of motion, color, and sound. The tunes are great, the getaway chases will leave you breathless, and the motley team of robbers—which includes Kevin Spacey, Eiza González, and an excellent Jamie Foxx—comes from the kind of screenplay you wish Tarantino still wrote. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
Beatriz at Dinner
Finally, the championship face-off you’ve been waiting for: Beatriz at Dinner pits the doe-eyed, incalculable sadness of immigrant Beatriz (Salma Hayek) against the luminous forehead and righteous privilege of Doug Strutt (John Lithgow) via a hyper-uncomfortable script by Mike White. (White previously partnered with Beatriz director Miguel Arteta on Chuck & Buck, and we all remember how much fun that was!) I wanted Beatriz at Dinner to employ a righteous Hayek-eagle descending on a Lithgow-beast—talons sharp!—but instead we drink in her fatigue as she beats her wings against an impossible adversary. SUZETTE SMITH Cinema 21.
★ The Beguiled
Sofia Coppola has crafted an enchanting, dark, sometimes funny Civil War-era battle of the sexes that’s one of the more smartly provocative movies of the summer. Whichever characters you end up thinking the title applies to, it’s just as likely to refer to viewers. MARC MOHAN Various Theaters.
★ The Big Sick
The Big Sick doesn’t sound like anything extraordinary. But that’s what makes it so enjoyable—this is the type of sweetly told, small-scale story that has all but evaporated from movie screens, and wouldn’t work as a TV show. It’s also got one or two things to say about being a Muslim in America, so it’s not only different from the usual white-bread romantic comedies, it’s very much connected to this political moment, too. Maybe this is putting too much significance onto a story this small. But I think The Big Sick is up for it. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
★ Classic French Cinema
The NW Film Center’s series of French cinema arrives with the dog days of summer, meaning that between now and the end of August, there are some excellent alternatives to the late-summer multiplex doldrums. The series appears to be curated around French director Bertrand Tavernier’s new three-hour documentary My Journey Through French Cinema, a far from comprehensive but enjoyably heartfelt survey of his country’s film history. That means the series eschews obvious touchstones like Truffaut, Godard, Malle, and Chabrol. Rather, the maverick Jean-Pierre Melville is represented by two of his greatest films (1967’s grimly meditative, hugely influential Le Samouraï and 1969’s bleak French Resistance thriller Army of Shadows), as is poetic realist Marcel Carné, whose sweepingly tragic work, such as 1939’s Le jour se lève and 1945’s two-part epic Children of Paradise (both screening), was considered laughably outdated when the French New Wave rolled around. The Melville films, especially Le Samouraï, are must-sees for contemporary audiences, as is the tense, paranoid Classe tous risques, a 1960 thriller from director Claude Sautet that juxtaposes film-noir and gangster-film tropes onto a heartbreaking domestic story. NED LANNAMANN NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
★ David Lynch: A Retrospective
A friend once told me he imagined David Lynch as a nice dad who’d serve you quinoa while discussing the benefits of transcendental meditation. Maybe that’s a weird way to describe the filmmaker behind such horrors as Mulholland Drive and Blue Velvet, but I get it. Lynch’s movies aren’t comfortable, but the strong emotional engagement they elicit feels like a gift, and so does NW Film Center’s Lynch retrospective. More at nwfilm.org. MEGAN BURBANK NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
Samwise Gamgee and Doc Block ask Short Round, a chubby exhibitionist, and a bad Michael Jackson impersonator to join them on a treasure hunt on the Oregon coast, where Joey Pants and the FBI dickhead from Die Hard are illegally detaining an ex-football player with encephalitis. Will this motley gang of misfits find Captain Dick Joke’s secret stash of gold coins before they’re brutally murdered by an English bulldog in a dress? Will everyone speak solely in perforated shrieks and yelps? Will you start to wish you were just playing the old NES game again instead of sitting through your 50th viewing of this tired nostalgia exercise that constitutes roughly 17 percent of Astoria’s economy? Hah! C’mon. Goonies never say die, right? It’s our time down here! BOBBY ROBERTS Academy Theater.
Grindhouse Film Festival: Mighty Peking Man
The Shaw Brothers Studio’s King Kong knockoff came out in 1977—a year after Dino De Laurentiis’ King Kong remake. Hey, War for the Planet of the Apes is out this week too! MONKEYS EVERYWHERE! Anyway, this is screening in 35mm and will feature live monkeys in attendance! Hollywood Theatre.
The latest entry into the illustrious genre of Indie Movies About Sad Old Men, The Hero follows Lee Hayden (Sam Elliott), a 71-year-old movie star who’s keenly aware that he’s about 40 years past his prime. If you’re guessing what Lee needs is a visit from a manic pixie dream girl, well, hey, look who it is: thirtysomething stand-up comedian Charlotte (Laura Prepon), who’s got a thing for older dudes and a ready supply of molly. There’s a fair amount of meta-ness going on in The Hero—characters keep telling Lee how much they like his mustache and his old movies where he played a cowboy—and Elliott remains as gruff, likeable, and watchable as ever. That real-life baggage goes both ways, though; no matter how seriously writer/director Brett Haley takes all this, it’s never not going to be weird to watch Donna from That ’70s Show making out with The Stranger from The Big Lebowski. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Will Ferrell’s latest unasked-for comedy, this time costarring Amy Poehler. Not screened for critics. Hell, they didn’t even tell critics about it. The studio pretended like this shit doesn’t even exist. Various Theaters.
Letters from Baghdad: The True Story of Gertrude Bell and Iraq
An experimental documentary about Gertrude Bell, directed by Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum and featuring actors portraying Bell’s contemporaries. Not screened for critics. Cinema 21.
The Little Hours
Though nuns are often portrayed as beacons of purity, they’re anything but in The Little Hours, Jeff Baena’s film set at a convent in medieval Italy. These sisters unleash torrents of profanity, violently lash out at men, chug sacramental wine, and explore their sexuality with wild abandon. The Little Hours finds comedy in mundanity; its jokes, thankfully, make up for its unoriginality. Actor Fred Armisen in attendance for a Q&A at the 7 pm show on Friday, July 14. CIARA DOLAN Cinema 21.
Folk-art buffs and extremely patriotic Canadians may already know the story of Maud Lewis, an arthritic Nova Scotian who sold her simple but charming paintings out of the tiny house she shared with her fishmonger husband in the middle decades of the 20th century. For the rest of us there’s Maudie, a gentle biopic starring the great Sally Hawkins as Maud, with Ethan Hawke as her gruff, unlettered husband, Everett. Director Aisling Walsh and screenwriter Sherry White present it as a love story of sorts, with Everett’s initial indifference toward Maud (who’s his housemaid at first) evolving into affection as he’s won over by her goodness. Hawke plays Everett’s subtle tenderness effectively, but it’s Hawkins’ Maud—guileless and smiling even as she becomes more stooped and withered—that carries the day. Though perhaps a bit lacking in substance, it’s a nice, unassuming movie, such as one might take one’s mother to. ERIC D. SNIDER Various Theaters.
A partially animated documentary about an issue facing multiracial families: “medical issues relating to complex genes and donor matches in blood cancer patients.” Director in attendance. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
★ Rebel Without a Cause
Nicholas Ray’s 1955 classic starring James Dean and a leather jacket. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
★ Spider-Man: Homecoming
I will not start off this review by saying all previous Spider-Man movies were garbage—because they weren’t. Some were mediocre, and the rest were garbage. So let’s never speak of them again, because Spider-Man: Homecoming isn’t only the best Spider-Man film ever made—it might just be the current reigning champion in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
★ Spielberg on Film
The Hollywood Theatre's “Spielberg on Film” series is going strong, presenting some of the director's greatest movies—all on 35mm or 16mm. And this weekend's lineup is all Indy, all the time, with the goddamn perfect adventure classic Raiders of the Lost Ark, its dark, weird sequel Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and the crowd-pleasing Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade screening on 35mm! Seeing Indy chase relics, smooch ladies, and defy death on the big screen is about as good as moviegoing gets, and BONUS: So many Nazis get punched! ERIK HENRIKSEN See “The Hollywood Theatre Celebrates Spielberg—in 35 and 16mm,” Film, June 28 Hollywood Theatre.
Transformers: The Last Knight
You don’t have to do this to yourself. You really don’t. Look at all these other movies! Look at all the choices! You can do anything. Anything but sit down and let... this happen to you. For your sake, and the sake of those who care for you—please don’t do this. Starring Stanley Tucci as Merlin. Various Theaters.
The Nicolas Cage vampire comedy from 1988, back when Nicolas Cage only kinda looked like a vampire. Laurelhurst Theater.
★ War for the Planet of the Apes
War for the Planet of the Apes may not be a full-blown argument for the end of the human race, but the film does make the case that if a natural or unnatural calamity befalls our species in the near-to-middle-distant future, no one will be able to say we didn’t ask for it. SEAN NELSON Various Theaters.
“A teenage girl discovers a box that carries magic powers and a deadly price for using them.” Directed by John R. Leonetti, the auteur behind Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, The Butterfly Effect 2, and Annabelle. Various Theaters.
★ Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman is exciting and fun—even though it devolves into typical blockbuster spectacle near its end, I’d recommend it to anyone who loves action films, and there’s also just enough subtext to feed a philosophical mind. How much harm does Wonder Woman do when she strides boldly into war? Is this what power looks like? Is it cool just because she’s a woman? Hopefully these questions will be answered in future films. For now, Wonder Woman is a thrilling start. SUZETTE SMITH Various Theaters.
Wyrd War Presents: Wizards
Animator Ralph Bakshi’s 1977 post-apocalyptic fantasy. Get high and go! What’s the worst that could happen? Hollywood Theatre.
The highest-grossing anime in box-office history, Your Name has many hailing the film’s director, Makoto Shinkai, as the new Hayao Miyazaki. Shinkai has been working towards this for a while, and boasts a nice assortment of creative sci-fi dramas on his resume, all with emo band titles like The Place Promised in Our Early Days and 5 Centimeters Per Second (that’s the speed at which cherry blossoms fall). For its first half, Your Name functions like Freaky Friday (teenagers swapping bodies while they sleep?! zoinks!!), but midway through, it ramps up its narrative by like 1,000 percent. Do yourself a favor and don’t read anything else about it before you see it! Shinkai has a ways to go before he’s ready to pick up Miyazaki’s torch, but Your Name’s twist is worth waiting for. SUZETTE SMITH Laurelhurst Theater.
See review, this issue. Director in attendance.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, July 14-Thursday, July 20, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.