The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
This is the legendary swashbuckling Errol Flynn classic, but we're strictly Prince of Thieves folks here. If it ain't Kevin Costner and Bryan Adams, we don't want to know. Living Room Theaters.
Guy Maddin's 1990 surrealist tribute to the first talking films of the late 1920s. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
A mix of fiction and documentary, Miloš Forman's 1963 film examines competitions and their "talented—and not so talented—participants." Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
With or without your consent, the age of the internet is bringing to the fore increasingly personalized navel-gazing oeuvres. In film, this is arguably most apparent in the irksomely, if appropriately, emo-sounding "mumblecore" movement, characterized by low production values and subject matter close to the hearts of its artsy, young creators (read: who-am-I-and-where-am-I-going? angst). The Duplass brothers, Jay and Mark, are among the most prominent under the mumblecore umbrella, achieving wide-ish notability with 2005's The Puffy Chair. Baghead maintains the established vibe, but just when you're sure you're over it, the Duplasses and their cast (which includes Greta Gerwig, the closest mumblecore has to a starlet) start to resemble something much more interesting. Part rambling bullshit, part old-school horror movie, part comedy, and part drama, Baghead manages to lift its gaze away from its bellybutton long enough to toy interestingly with some of the film industry's moldier classifications. MARJORIE SKINNER Living Room Theaters.
"Albert, these people are right-wing conservatives. They don't care if you're a pig, they just care if you're a fag!" Pioneer Courthouse Square.
Miloš Forman's second feature is a coming-of-age comedy, and the loosely structured 1964 film was a benchmark of the budding Czech new wave movement. While it successfully captures some of the bittersweet, carefree essences of small-town youth, it's difficult to give two shits about the lackadaisical titular character. He's a loser and a schmuck, and his conservative windbag of a father is right: Peter'll never amount to anything with that kind of attitude. NED LANNAMANN Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
See review. Fox Tower 10.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
The dubious return to the magical land of Narnia, where lions are even more Jesus-y and those four Pevensie kids get on your last good nerve. With nearly an hour of tacked-on battles, sword fights, and overlong journeys, Prince Caspian is bloated and lacking in all sorts of magic that it purports to have. In shooting for Lord of the Rings-scale epic scope, Narnia just comes off as the Shire's unsophisticated backwoods cousin—desperate to please, and without a clue how to do so. COURTNEY FERGUSON Various Theaters.
The City of Lost Children
Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro's creepy, beautiful fantasy film is one of the best films of the '90s. Broadway Metroplex.
The Dark Knight
The fact that Heath Ledger's final completed role is that of the Joker in The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan's eagerly anticipated sequel to Batman Begins, is, to say the least, disconcerting. But all the same—three years after Begins, and seven months after Ledger's body was found—The Dark Knight is all the things audiences are hoping it will be. It is bold, bombastic, and badass. There are sublimely orchestrated action sequences, stunningly gorgeous cityscapes, and elegantly conceived bank heists and abductions and interrogations. But perhaps the most notable thing about The Dark Knight is that it's so relentlessly and unapologetically... well, dark. The Dark Knight is fun, but there's also a stark, twisting anger to it, a sinister, cynical, nihilistic edge that can't be denied. Part of this is by design—the tense, simmering script, by Christopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan, focuses less on Batman and more on his foes—but the darkness is also inseparable from Ledger, whose death has colored the film in ways that are impossible to shake. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
An original print of Kent MacKenzie's acclaimed 1961 film about Navajos living in the slums of Los Angeles. Mississippi Station.
The Fireman's Ball
Miloš Forman directed The Firemen's Ball in 1967, and it's a broadly comic send-up of disorganized and inefficacious bureaucracy. A group of small-town Czech firefighters hold their annual ball, but the raffle prizes get stolen, the beauty contest is filled with homely and unwilling contestants, and a fire erupts across the street. Forman was very careful to keep the comedy at the forefront, without being too explicit in his political commentary, but after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia following the Prague Spring of 1968, Forman was in the hot seat, and he was forced to escape to America, where fame (and Oscars) awaited. Meanwhile, this lasting satire—starring non-actors—works tremendously well as both light comedy and sharp-toothed social critique. NED LANNAMANN Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Flight of the Navigator
In this 1986 Disney flick, a 12-year-old kid falls into a ravine. When he wakes up, everyone is eight years older. Could it be that he was abducted by aliens? ...Or is he the alien? (Answer: No, he's not.) It's E.T. combined with Back to the Future, and I remember liking this movie just fine when I saw it as a kid, but revisiting it as a (relatively) grown-up person, it seems pretty witless. Howard Hesseman and Sarah Jessica Parker have small roles, and Pee-wee Herman is the voice of the spaceship, which I admit is still neat-looking. NED LANNAMANN Hotel Deluxe.
Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
Alex Gibney's documentary tries, and largely succeeds, to chart the curve of Hunter S. Thompson's life and the impact of his words. Gonzo's core is the interviews with the usual suspects: Thompson's wives, his son, his editors, and Ralph Steadman. But we also hear from Jimmy Carter, George McGovern, a still-pissed Hell's Angel, Jimmy Buffett, Pat Buchanan, and Tom Wolfe, the last of whom strikingly compares Thompson to Mark Twain. (Indeed, the only major player in Thompson's life who seems absent is arch-villain Richard Nixon, which I suppose can be forgiven.) Thompson's pal Johnny Depp also shows up, reading from Thompson's work and bringing Thompson's deft lyricism and righteous spirit to the film, but what's perhaps most appreciated and unexpected is the candor with which Gibney treats his respected subject: Thompson was a genius, yes, and he changed journalism and politics for the better, yet Gibney doesn't shy away from showing that Thompson could also be an asshole, and that he let his own myth get the better of him. From the horror of the '68 Chicago riots to the euphoric shooting of Thompson's ashes out of a colossal Gonzo fist, Gibney scrapes through Thompson's writing, history, and friends to assemble a thorough and affecting portrait of a man who, at one crucial point in time, was one of the best writers America had, not to mention a writer that only America could have produced. ERIK HENRIKSEN Hollywood Theatre.
Loud and broad and schizoid, superhero flick Hancock is exactly what you'd expect to get if you locked 14 arguing screenwriters in a room and didn't let 'em out until they wrote something, anything, that could star Will Smith and be released over the Fourth of July weekend. By its end credits, Hancock has mashed up satire, action, and fantasy to such a degree that it all feels like self-parody, and at the end of the day, I honestly don't even know what to call it, other than something that probably seemed like a good idea at the time. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
After Schindler's List won seven Oscars, Steven Spielberg could've made whatever artsy, fancy-pants picture he wanted. Instead, dude turned around and made a sequel to Jurassic Park. Mexican director Guillermo del Toro found himself in a similar spot in 2006, when his acclaimed fantasy fable Pan's Labyrinth wowed arthouse crowds all over the world. Suddenly, del Toro found himself able to do pretty much whatever he wanted—and it turns out all he wanted was to revisit Hellboy, his 2004 comic book flick. For the record, The Lost World: Jurassic Park didn't win any Oscars, and Hellboy II probably won't either, but fuck it: That's not the point. The point, rather, is fun: In any other movie, it'd be a sign that things had gone seriously awry if a red demon and a blue talking fish got together, drank too much Tecate, and started slurring out a drunken duet, but in Hellboy II: The Golden Army, it kind of makes sense. About the only way I can describe the gorgeous, bizarre, and thoroughly entertaining Hellboy II is as an "epic-fantasy-action-comedy-romance": It's got parts that are awe inspiring; its lush, bright colors are beautiful; and there are some kickass action scenes. There's also some clumsy comedy and a few ham-fisted emotional beats, but when the whole is this bizarre and cool and unique, it's hard to complain. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer
See review. Hollywood Theatre.
Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D
Possibly the dorkiest movie ever made, Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D stars the doofily likeable Brendan Fraser as a scientist who takes his 13-year-old nephew (Josh Hutcherson) on an ill-advised geology expedition. They fight CG dinosaurs and CG piranhas and CG Venus flytraps, and they also bicker over which one of them will get to bone their foxy Icelandic mountain guide (Anita Briem). Along the way, our trio treks through epic Technicolor vistas that would look right at home on the cover of a '50s sci-fi paperback: There are underground sunsets, forests of towering mushrooms, and plesiosaur-infested seas, and all of these locales have the plasticine, hypnotic feel of Disneyland. Unexpectedly, it's here that Journey transcends its somewhat mercenary roots (it's the first full-length, live-action film to be shot and widely distributed in digital 3D, and it's more or less a test for future 3D films) to become something that's usually pretty fun and occasionally dazzling, even if you'll spend half the runtime rolling your eyes at Hallmark-worthy familial bonding and geology-related humor. ("We're in deep schist!") ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
The Kuchar Brothers Film Festival
Two nights of films from experimental filmmakers George and Mike Kuchar. More info at clintonsttheater.com. Clinton Street Theater.
Loves of a Blonde
Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, this 1965 Czech film is a study of a young country girl's wavering affections for a trio of suitors. Director Miloš Forman's outlook is bleak: The girl has no idea what she wants, the men are all fumbling cads, and the small factory town is palpably stifling. The film is built around two extended comic set pieces: an insufferably awkward town dance where the girl meets a piano player, and a never-ending family squabble that she encounters when she follows the young man back to his home in Prague. In between is a love scene of relative frankness for its mid-'60s Eastern Bloc origins, and Blonde's moments of peaceful serenity make the comedy seem that much more human. NED LANNAMANN Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
It doesn't get any cornier. When ABBA and musical theater joined forces in the form of Mamma Mia!, it tested the outer limits of the universe's capacity for cheese. Of course, like ABBA, it was a wild success. Likewise, and particularly with baby boomers as the current ruling class, the film adaptation starring the virtually unimpeachable Meryl Streep is going to be a slam dunk at the box office. And while the extreme dorkiness of it all can be difficult to get into (do not even attempt if you are not predisposed), the cast's palpable joy produces some truly great moments. Typically, these theater dorks are having too much fun for the cynics' scorn to wield any power. MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters.
Not your father's Genghis Khan, this despotic bully is sensitive and whatever the word for emo is now. Mongol plays like Last of the Mohicans 2: Asia Minor, turning an otherwise excellent movie into something pretty and revisionist. It begins with pre-pubescent Khan—and let me tell you, there is nothing more adorable than a chubby little murderer in tiny furry moccasins—and ends with fortysomething Khan conquering half the world, which is a lot of conquering. In between, he gets captured and enslaved, escapes, and is reunited with his wife several times over, because he will find her whatever may occur. The acting is... eh, well, it's entirely in Mongolian, so your guess is as good as mine, but it seemed sincere, and the final battle scene is gloriously awesome. Still, reinventing the Khan as a kinder, gentler tyrant is difficult to swallow, and it really takes the "war" out of "warlord." KIALA KAZEBEE Various Theaters.
Mr. Adler and the Opera
Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo appear in this 1981 documentary about Kurt Adler, general director for the San Francisco Opera. Clinton Street Theater.
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
See review. Various Theaters.
The Alfred Hitchcock/James Stewart classic from 1954. (Also see the remake, Disturbia, starring this generation's very own Jimmy Stewart, Mr. Shia LaBeouf.) The Press Club.
The Reflecting Pool
Jarek Kupsc's investigative drama explores 9/11 conspiracy theories. Hollywood Theater.
Because Savage Grace is a film based on a true story, and as such its plot is a matter of public record, I have no qualms about revealing that it's about a mentally unstable socialite (Julianne Moore) who responds to her husband's infidelity by initiating a sexual relationship with her gay son Tony (Eddie Redmayne). Then one day the gay son stabs her, then he orders some Chinese food and eats it by her corpse, and that's how you know he's a sociopath. Grace takes an arthouse approach to tabloid material—in other words, it revels in being both sordid and abstruse. The mom-on-son scenes are filmed all Flowers in the Attic-style—kinda creepy, but kinda sexy, too. (If boning your relatives were actually this hot, more people would be doing it.) But artsy pretensions and pulpy storytelling aside, there seems to be a bigger issue here: Someone, somewhere, seriously misunderstood the term "MILF." ALISON HALLETT Living Room Theaters.
Rock Hudson stars in John Frankenheimer's 1966 sci-fi thriller. Jace Gace.
Sissyboy Double Feature
Two films from gender-bending performance group Sissyboy: Sissyboy: A Documentary is pretty much exactly what you'd guess, given the title, while Whatever Happened to Fannie Mae is the troupe's take on Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Cinema 21
Son of Rambow
Despite the fact it's directed by Garth Jennings—the same guy who helmed the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy adaptation a few years back—Son of Rambow is nothing at all like Hitchhiker's. (They don't mention Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters once!) Instead, Rambow is about two young boys and the remake of Rambo that they put together during an idyllic English summer (is there any other kind?). The boys are Lee Carter (Will Poulter), a neglected bad boy with a majorly dickish older brother (who's played by Chuck from Gossip Girl! Eeeee!), and Will (Bill Milner), the sensitive, sheltered one living in a repressed Amish-ish community. Will's not allowed to watch TV or see movies, so he's often cast out of the classroom and forced to sit in the hallway next to a goldfish whenever a movie is played, while Lee is also often cast out into the hallway for things like, oh, I don't know—maybe punching girls in the face and an unfortunate incident of fish murder. Anyway, the boys end up bonding in front of the dean's office and becoming instant best friends, and what follows is a sweet, funny, and romantic film about two boys remaking the original Rambo in its entirety. KIALA KAZEBEE Various Theaters.
It's almost impossible not to compare Space Chimps to that other CG space movie, Wall-E. Of course, Space Chimps utterly fails in comparison: The animation is sub-par, the voice acting is annoying, and the story is uninteresting, as chimpanzees sent into space empathize with an alien race, and in their quest to save them, they learn a bit about themselves, too. (One of the aliens they meet, a squeaky little light bulb-headed thing called Kilowatt, is the most annoying fucking character I've ever seen in a movie. I'm talking worse than Jar Jar.) Just watch Wall-E again. DREW GEMMER Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing.
In 1957, the Soviets launched Sputnik, the first manmade satellite to be sent into orbit. The Space Age had begun with a bang—and America was caught completely off guard, scrambling to catch up to our Cold War foes. Sputnik Mania looks back at those days with expertly used archival footage, along with contemporary interviews and even-keeled narration from Liev Schreiber. Filmmaker David Hoffman keeps the resultant drama easy to follow, with enough detail to capture the zeitgeist of the era—allowing Sputnik Mania to surpass its History Channel subject matter to become a sweeping, insightful look back at a pivotal moment in history. NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre.
St. Elmo's Fire
"I can see a new horizon underneath the blazin' sky/I'll be where the eagle's flying higher and higher/Gonna be your man in motion, all I need is a pair of wheels!" Laurelhurst Theater.
Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly's impression of Will Ferrell star as two men in their 40s who still live with their recently married parents (Mary Steenburgen and Richard Jenkins), and who now have to share a home as they each learn what it means to be an adult. Sounds watchable, at least, right? Thing is, Ferrell and Reilly's latest manifestation of the man-child archetype has all the depth and humor of a spoiled nine-year-old pouting in the cereal aisle of a grocery store. This would be forgivable, of course, were it not for the fact that everybody seems to have completely run out of funny shit to say. (Farrell's comedy has especially devolved—now it largely consists of shouting expletives and/or non-sequiturs about his balls.) ZAC PENNINGTON Various Theaters.
"I don't want a large Farva, I want a goddamn liter o' cola!" Bagdad Theater.
See review. Various Theaters.
Miloš Forman's 1971 satire, featuring Buck Henry and Tina Turner. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Oliver Stone's 1986 film about a talk show host screens as part of the Northwest Institute for Social Change's summertime outdoor Media Movies Series. Mississippi Station.
Tell No One
Eight years after losing his wife in the woods to a mysterious serial killer (no, not Jason Vorhees), a still-grieving pediatrician begins to receive emails hinting that the tragedy might not be as random as originally thought. Adapting a novel by US airport bookstore staple Harlen Coben, writer/director Guillaume Canet's confident, almost irritatingly taut thriller wastes no time in cranking the paranoia up to 11. The sheer amount of red herrings can be difficult to wade through at times, but Canet's sense of style makes even the more head-scratching moments enjoyable. A gratifyingly nasty whodunit with a healthy sense of its own absurdities. ANDREW WRIGHT Cinema 21.
"All cowboys ain't dumb. Some of 'em got smarts real good, like me." Plan B.
Vintage Porn Double Feature
Two films from "Golden Age porn director Cecil Howard," presented on 35mm: 1977's Heat Wave and 1981's Neon Nights. Fun for the whole family! Clinton Street Theater.
Wanted is based, albeit extremely loosely, on Mark Millar's gleefully misanthropic comic of the same name. (Unlike those lab rats who eventually learn to quit pressing the lever that delivers the electroshocks, I still believe in the possibility of books I like being turned into movies that I like. Clearly, I am an idiot.) Of course, anyone whose judgment isn't clouded by lust for eminently doable star James McAvoy and/or an affection for the comics has certainly already discerned from its trailer that Wanted is spectacularly terrible, a brainless celebration of stylized violence that's fatally hamstrung by its own moral squeamishness. The ultimate indication of Wanted's irredeemability is that after two hours of wincing through this mess, McAvoy's face started to look a lot less pretty. ALISON HALLETT City Center 12.
We Are Together
There are an increasing number of documentary films cataloging the many problems faced in Africa, and against this backdrop, We Are Together is in some pretty harrowing company. The film's focus is curiously narrow, and director Paul Taylor gives little in the way of a greater context for his subjects, who are orphans in the small South African town of Agape whose families are plagued by the AIDS epidemic and who are without any apparent support from the government. The children—and the adults and volunteers looking after them—raise funds for themselves by forming a children's choir and recording CDs, which are sent overseas in hopes that someone will be moved. While We Are Together follows them through the ultimate achievement of performing in New York onstage with Alicia Keys and Paul Simon, it fails to address anything greater—instead, the film's too-tight focus on one orphanage in a sea of similarly displaced kids ultimately feels like little more than a fundraising venture of its own, and one that offers no solution beyond a URL for the viewer to visit and make a donation. MARJORIE SKINNER Living Room Theaters.
The X-Files: I Want to Believe
It's easy to forget that The X-Files was at one point a great television show: The series' drift into obsolescence was so painfully prolonged that the patience of even the most diehard fans had been exhausted by the end of its nine-year run. And if you've forgotten how good the show once was, the new feature film isn't going to remind you. I Want to Believe is a transparent attempt to capitalize on the brand, without doing any of the imaginative work that made the show interesting. There are no aliens. There's no government conspiracy. There aren't even any rad monsters, genetic anomalies, or clever metanods to the show's history: There's only a pedophile priest, a kidnapping ring that abducts women and keeps them in dog cages, and a faint, sad attempt to erect some vestiges of the old sexual tension between former partners Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). If you're feeling nostalgic for the series, do yourself a favor and rent a few seasons of The X-Files on DVD. If you still have any fond feelings toward the franchise, it's unlikely that they'll survive the first 10 minutes of this film. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.