★ An American Werewolf in London
John Landis is what some might consider a “problematic fave.” It’d probably be easier to write the man off for his frequent foibles of moral character if he hadn’t gone on an unholy tear in the ’80s, the pinnacle of which, for many, is the comedy-horror classic An American Werewolf in London, which exploded genre boundaries, marked a dramatic leap forward in practical effects, and seriously boosted the careers of stars Griffin Dunne and David Naughton. Naughton will be attending this screening, and will talk about the film, and maybe even share a story or two that will simultaneously make you love and loathe Landis all over again. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
★ Army of Darkness
“Alright, you primitive screwheads! Listen up! You see this? This is my boomstick. The 12-gauge, double-barreled Remington! S-Mart’s top of the line! You can find this in the sporting goods department.” Part of the NW Film Center’s Top Down: Rooftop Cinema series, preceded by a local short film. Hotel DeLuxe.
The Glass Castle
On paper, The Glass Castle must have looked like a sure bet. I had high hopes, too: (1) Jeannette Walls' bestselling memoir, from which the film takes its name, is a richly-detailed work about seriously irresponsible parents and their surprisingly functional kids, (2) Destin Daniel Cretton previously directed Brie Larson (who plays the adult Jeannette) in an acclaimed performance in Short Term 12, (3) There isn't much Naomi Watts (as Jeannette's mother, Rose Mary) can't do, and (4) Larson and Woody Harrelson (as Jeannette's father, Rex) already depicted a believably strained father-daughter relationship in Oren Moverman's Rampart. So it comes as a disappointment to find that Cretton's adaptation just doesn't work. The actors give it their all, but they look awkward and uncomfortable, and Cretton doesn't have a feel for the material—not least because he invests Walls' clear-eyed remembrances with soft-focus sentimentality. KATHY FENNESSY Various Theaters.
It really is kind of a mystery how this skeevy homage to the glory days of teenage exploitation became a family-friendly sing-a-long, but it happened, so if you wanna pile the kids into the family wagon and park ’em at the Expo to belt out “Greased Lightning” at the top of their lungs, let ’er rip. Portland Expo Center.
★ Hecklevision: Steel
Your opportunity to turn your phone into a weapon of textual comedic destruction, aimed directly at what is maybe (if you discount Frank Miller’s The Spirit) the most misguided superhero film ever made: Steel, a kinda-sorta-not-really Superman spinoff starring amiable lunkhead and part-time rapper Shaquille O’Neal. If you are still—somehow—valiantly fighting the indisputable truth of the 1990s as awkward, aesthetically deficient, confused clusterfuck of a decade? This installment of Hecklevision oughta snap those nostalgia glasses in half before the first 20 minutes of this cinematic mistake finish lumbering across the text-littered screen. And if you’re lucky, that text will include the lyrics to Shaq’s guest verse on 1994 gimmick rap single “What’s Up Doc?” by Fu-Schnickens, which is roughly 3.7 times more entertaining than the entirety of his performance in Steel. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
Remember when Shia LeBeouf wasn’t an insufferable dipshit? It looked like this. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
★ Kung Fu Theater: Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow
This month’s installment in Dan Halsted’s ongoing celebration of all things whoop-ass is a very rare 35mm print of the Jackie Chan classic Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow. Don’t go in expecting the ridiculous action-comedy frenzy of Drunken Master II or Project A, or you’re probably going to be a little nonplussed by the straightforward “master teaches student how to take out the rogue clan” story. This is a slower film than the average Chan fan might expect, but director/master Yuen Woo Ping still brings the goods from a choreography standpoint, and 1978-vintage Jackie is pretty goddamned impressive. And if you need a little outlandishness to go with your action, there is a kung fu Jesus in the mix. Catch the birth of a kung fu legend in 35mm while you can! BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
Neither Wolf Nor Dog
I’d call Neither Wolf Nor Dog a polemic if that term didn’t have such a negative connotation—and considering the film deals with the effects of cultural imperialism on Native American culture, there’s already plenty of baggage. But there’s some knowledge to be dropped here, and it’s gonna be dropped on you whether you like it or not. Adapted from Kent Nerburn’s 1994 novel, Wolf is structured as series of dialogues between Nerburn (here played by Christopher Sweeney) and fictional characters inspired by the author’s real experiences in Native communities. Nerbern sets himself up as a sort of well-meaning avatar for white cluelessness, to be instructed and occasionally fucked with by his two elder guides (Richard Ray Whitman and the late David William Beautiful Bald Eagle). The result is a series of well-shot North Dakota landscapes, punctuated by monologues on Native American life and a few uncomfortable teaching moments. BEN COLEMAN Cinema 21.
The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature
Jesus fucking Christ, “Nutty by Nature?” There was a Nut Job 1? Why are kids movies getting names like Nut Job in the first place? Much less sequels? Why are we doing this to our children? Why are you doing this to your children? What the fuck is wrong with us? Fuck this cruel, stupid Earth. Right in its nut hole. Various Theaters.
POINT: Space Jam is very, very terrible and has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Trust no one who tries to tell you otherwise.—Erik Henriksen, Film Editor COUNTERPOINT: Space Jam is the most precious kids’ basketball movie ever made! In a confusing time when GOAT Michael Jordan retired to play less watchable sports, kids were gifted Space Jam to aid in the grieving process. Portrayed as a humble family man, MJ gets sucked into a golf hole and recruited by the Looney Tunes to beat cartoon aliens at basketball. Is it far-fetched? DUH. But the Looney Tunes stay comically solid (as does Bill Murray), and the opening montage of Jordan’s career is chill-inducing. Space Jam was also the debut of Lola “Don’t Ever Call Me ‘Doll’” Bunny, who yes, plays Bugs Bunny’s romantic interest, but was also initially seen as a feminist icon. And don’t get me started on the soundtrack!—Jenni Moore, Copy Chief Academy Theater.
If you're me, you saw this movie was called Step and briefly freaked out, thinking it must be another great entry into the Step Up franchise! Sadly, it is not. Wonderfully, it’s still amazing. Step is a documentary about a group of Baltimore high-school seniors on a step dance team who are also part of the first graduating class of a new charter school for girls. This creates tremendous pressure on them to succeed after high school—particularly in the wake of the 2015 officer-involved killing of Freddie Gray, when the nation’s eyes were on the Black community of Baltimore. These girls' step team is where they can unleash all of their energy through stomping, clapping, and yelling, and when I say Step is reminiscent of a real-life Sister Act 2 combined with the best aspects of a Step Up movie, that's about as high a compliment as I can give. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
Peter Bo Rappmund’s experimental documentary uses hundreds of thousands of still photographs taken along the length of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline to highlight the ways nature reorients itself around the man-made intrusions forced upon it. Director in attendance. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, August 11-Thursday, August 17, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.