See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
Written, directed, and based on a book by David E. Talbert, Baggage Claim is the story of hopelessly sexy Montana Moore (Paula Patton), who's determined to land a husband before her sister's wedding. So her gay best buddy (Adam Brody) ropes the entire airport staff into letting her work all the flights that her exes are on, hoping they'll propose. Between Patton's cutesy smiles and the near-constant Disney soundtrack, by the end, I'd felt like I consumed the entire contents of a snack bar. Baggage Claim is just like every other romantic comedy, with the same clichéd phrases coming from impossibly gorgeous African Americans instead of Julia Roberts' stallion mouth. ROSE FINN Various Theaters.
"I've seen The Exorcist about 167 times, and it keeps getting funnier every single time I see it." Academy Theater.
Chuck Russell's 1988 horror remake. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
Woody Allen has been making "the best Woody Allen movie in 20 years" for nearly 20 years. In the past decade alone, critics have gone so far as to knight Match Point, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and even the (real talk) actually totally shitty Midnight in Paris with the dubious title. It's a critical cliché as lazy as it is meaningless, and I suspect you'll be hearing it a lot in relation to Blue Jasmine, this year's innocuously titled entry into the annual Allen cannon. If you're anything like me, you'll roll your eyes and temper your expectations. So let me be the first to say this definitively: Blue Jasmine is not the best Woody Allen movie in 20 years. But it is one of the best dramas he's ever made. ZAC PENNINGTON Various Theaters.
Cloudy With a Chance of
The sequel to 2009's surprisingly great kids' flick. Various Theaters.
C.O.G. is the first time David Sedaris has ever given permission for his work to be adapted to film—and maybe it's a rule he should've stood by. Based on a story in Naked, it's about a young man who flees his East Coast family to work on an apple orchard in Oregon. The film pointedly downplays the autobiographical elements of the story—this is not a movie about Sedaris. It is, instead, a movie about an intensely unlikable young man whose disdain for his surroundings colors every character in the film. Despite gorgeous cinematography (it was filmed on location in Oregon), C.O.G. is hamstrung by its sour, superior protagonist. ALISON HALLETT Hollywood Theatre.
The 1996 witch flick, screening as part of the Hollywood Theatre's "Broad Spectrum" series. Hollywood Theatre.
Cutie and the Boxer
This documentary concerns an old Japanese couple who live in New York City, have been married for 40 years, and, after all of this time in the art business, have failed to protect themselves from the threat of poverty. You never lose interest in the odd union between Ushio Shinohara—an artist who was a big deal in the Japanese avant-garde scene of the '60s—and Noriko, an artist who moved to New York in her early 20s. The film's hero turns out not to be the painter, Ushio, but the beauty, nobility, intelligence, grace, and secret artistic genius of Noriko. CHARLES MUDEDE Living Room Theaters.
Design Week Portland: Film
See "The Mercury's Guide to Design Week Portland," this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
I'll concede that Joseph Gordon-Levitt has earned the right to direct a modest, low-stakes indie flick, and that's precisely what Don Jon is: the story of a simple, porn-addicted Jersey guido (JG-L), who thinks he's found love in the club with a calculating, narcissistic guidette (Scarlett Johansson). As writer, director, and star of Don Jon, Gordon-Levitt's auteur ambitions here are evident—and while the film isn't a total disaster (the acting and direction are both serviceable), it's clear that his hollow, cavernous eyes are significantly bigger than his stomach. ZAC PENNINGTON Various Theaters.
As a director, Nicole Holofcener's body of work makes a good case for the argument that creativity thrives on limits. All of her films are built from the same building blocks: From her 1996 debut Walking and Talking through Lovely and Amazing, Friends with Money, and Please Give, each of Holofcener's movies are about white women. They're about self-deception and unhappiness and relationships and how to be a good person. Catherine Keener is always in them. But from this toolbox of feelings and Catherine Keeners, Holofcener consistently constructs perceptive, emotionally acute films that are clear-eyed about human frailty. And while it doesn't let any of the characters off the hook for their bullshit—it wouldn't be a Holofcener joint if it did—Enough Said is her warmest movie to date, thanks to the insanely likeable Julia Louis-Dreyfus and a great turn from James Gandolfini. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
It's a few hours into New Year's Day 2009, and a transit cop stands over 22-year-old Oscar Grant and his friends in the aftermath of a fight on a commuter train. The cops are indelicate, impatient. The men struggle back. Grant, in handcuffs, is dumped onto his stomach. Suddenly, in the chaos, one of the cops fires his gun into Grant's back. The crowd wails at a needless and visceral homicide. The picture fades out. In real life, Grant's death—and the pale justice that followed, with the cop who shot him serving merely 11 months for manslaughter—sparked riots. But it's only then, when we know how Grant's story ends, that Fruitvale Station—a dramatized retelling of the day that preceded Grant's death—can finally begin. DENIS C. THERIAULT Laurelhurst Theater.
A documentary about public defenders, and how strained resources have resulted in a reality in which "faith in the fairness and competency of the criminal justice system is ever more questioned." Man. America is doing great these days. Whitsell Auditorium.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
A documentary about Brandon Darby, "a radical left-wing activist turned FBI informant." Hollywood Theatre.
JJ Murphy and Andy Warhol
Cinema Project presents a two-night program, with the first (Mon Oct 7) featuring 16mm films from the '70s by JJ Murphy, with Murphy in attendance, and the second (Tues Oct 8) featuring two 33-minute-long films by Andy Warhol, with Murphy in attendance "to discuss Warhol's film work and techniques." More at cinemaproject.org. PICA.
Kung Fu Theater
A 35mm print of 1974's Hammer/Shaw Brothers mashup Seven Brothers Meet Dracula, also known as Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires, which is a far superior title. Hollywood Theatre.
Metallica: Through the Never
If Some Kind Of Monster was Metallica's accidental Spinal Tap, then Through the Never is the band's accidental Captain Eo: a curio of pure masturbatory cinematic spectacle, with zero justifiable reason for its existence outside its makers' own megalomaniacal boredom. ZAC PENNINGTON Various Theaters.
F.W. Murneau's 1922 horror flick. Horror movies were... different back then. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
Nosferatu the Vampyre
Werner Herzog, Klaus Kinski, Isabelle Adjani, and bloodsucking vampires sounds like the most perfect movie ever made, right? Well, I saw Nosferatu the Vampyre years ago and while I don't remember it all that well, I remember it being a lot more boring that it should've been. Still, don't take my word for it. The world's most reputable tome of cinematic criticism, 1996's Baked Potatoes: A Pot Smoker's Guide to Film and Video, calls it "the worst film to watch stoned ever made. Bar none." The book then lists 10 things you will enjoy more than this movie, including Zima, Howie Mandel, El Topo, and "your grandparents naked with sexual toys and aids." NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre.
"A recounting of the chaotic events that occurred at Dallas' Parkland Hospital on the day U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated." Wow! Serious business! Oh wait: This film stars High School Musical's Zac Efron, Roswell's Colin Hanks, and Smallville's Tom Welling. Cinetopia Progress Ridge 14, Living Room Theaters.
Port of Shadows
It's a port... of shadows! The titular shadowy port is located in France, and it is the setting for big-deal old-timey filmmaker Marcel Carné's 1938 classic crime drama, involving an army deserter, louche romance, and X-treme blackmail. Recommended by Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre. Whitsell Auditorium.
Portland Lesbian & Gay
See Film, this issue. Cinema 21, Clinton Street Theater, Living Room Theaters.
Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Incendies), Prisoners is both a squick-out thriller and a dark, brooding drama about the wages of sin. It's relentlessly heavy, but the marriage works: Despite being about half an hour too long, Prisoners is tense and effective, conjuring up nail-biting suspense in the manner of The Silence of the Lambs while offering cinematic brain-meat to chew on. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer
See "This Root Beer Is Rootin' Tootin', by Vladimir Putin," this issue. Whitsell Auditorium.
1985's Ran is often (correctly) described as Kurosawa's riff on Shakespeare's King Lear, but I've always thought it had more in common with Hitchcock's Vertigo. Not in subject matter or style, but in the way it exposes Kurosawa's psyche so clearly. Ran is the story of an old ruler, guilty of terrible crimes and nearing the end of his life; in a moment of foolish optimism, he divides his kingdom among his three sons. The chaos that ensues drives him insane as his whole world falls to beautiful, soul-destroying ruin all around him, burnt and salted by the same pride that fueled his rise. By blending Shakespearean tragedy with old Japanese legend, and applying every technique he ever learned or invented, Kurosawa creates an epic that comes as close as anything to realizing the concept of filmed poetry. Screens as part of the NW Film Center's "Samurai Cinema" series. BOBBY ROBERTS Whitsell Auditorium.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
Racing nuts are well acquainted with the bitter rivalry between Formula One champs James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Hunt was a stunningly handsome English playboy (the stunningly handsome Chris Hemsworth), a hard-partying adrenaline junkie who raced on pure instinct. Conversely, Lauda was the methodical Austrian (perfectly embodied by Daniel Brühl) who intricately planned every race, and knew his car better than his mechanics. He was also nicknamed the "Rat"—due to his less-than-stunning looks and general unlikeability. Both were dicks to each other, and their obsessive rivalry nearly pushed each other to their deaths. And like Lauda's brilliant driving, director Ron Howard's film comes off as similarly methodical, expertly thought out, and gorgeous to watch. And also a little bloodless. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
Shaun of the Dead
"Just look at the face. It's vacant, with a hint of sadness. Like a drunk who's lost a bet." Laurelhurst Theater.
Sing-Along Sound of Music
The hilllllls are alllive with the sooound OH SWEET JESUS MAKE IT STOP FOR THE LOVE OF GOD MAKE IT STOP Cinema 21.
This Is the End
There are many laughs to be had in This Is the End—perhaps the first apocalypse movie centering around a Hollywood brat pack—but the best moment comes when pop star Rihanna slaps the ever-loving shit out of Arrested Development's Michael Cera. It is a slap for the ages, and so very, very gratifying. It's worth the price of admission alone. Lucky for you, a lot more fun follows. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Academy Theater, Bagdad Theater, Edgefield, Kennedy School, Laurelhurst Theater, Valley Theater.
Tlatelolco, Verano del 68
Named for the massacre that took place in Mexico City just before the 1968 Olympics, director Carlos Bolado’s Tlatelolco, Verano de 68 is about social unrest, revolution, and state violence. At the same time, it’s a love story between two students: the wealthy, well-connected Ana María (Cassandra Ciangherotti) and the working-class Felix (Christian Vasquez). The couple can’t avoid becoming entangled in the turmoil surrounding them—and through their eyes, we experience the hope and fear of fighting for change. The message is inspiring, but also pretty depressing, especially since even now Olympics-hosting countries are oppressing their citizens. Screening to benefit the Portland Latin American Film Festival (with Bolado in attendance, as well as live music and a dessert tasting), Tlatelolco is timely, gorgeous, and highly recommended. ELINOR JONES Hollywood Theatre.
The Trials of Muhammad Ali
Another look at America's eternally badass butterfly-bee may seem unnecessary, but since the director, Bill Siegel, did the brilliant documentary The Weather Underground, expect this to be well-put-together, sharply political, smart as hell, and an entirely useful addition to the canon. Whitsell Auditorium.
Two films (Hope and Pray and Medusa Smack) from Vanessa Renwick, with scores by Tara Jane O'Neil and Daniel Menche. Hollywood Theatre.
Zompire: The Undead Film Festival
The annual film festival "dedicated to all things undead" also features a costume contest and presentations such as "Your Zombie Survival Plan Will Fail!" (with publisher, survivalist, and zombie enthusiast A. Scott Glancy) and "The Future of Horror Comics" (with Dark Horse Comics editor Scott Allie). More info: zompire.com. Clinton Street Theater.