All the Boys Love Mandy Lane
A horror flick starring Amber Heard. Not screened for critics. Living Room Theaters.
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 Hollywood Theatre.
The Bride of Frankenstein
"Let's just enjoy romantic dinner by the fire, Frank, and—oh, god. Settle down."
Captain Phillips shouldn't be as good as it is. It's a big studio picture, based on an inspirational true story about a shipping vessel whose captain was taken hostage by Somali pirates, starring one of the world's hugest movie stars, directed by a guy most famous for his Bourne movies: Broken into pieces, Captain Phillips should be mass-market sap. But it's the opposite of that: lean and smart and intense, it's a film that's happy to kick you in the stomach to make a point. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
See review. Various Theaters.
A "poignant sexual examination" of a married lesbian housewife who, after "getting smacked by her son's baseball," becomes a high-end escort. Sometimes arthouse movies have the exact same plots as porn. Living Room Theaters.
A weird, brilliant, brutal, and gorgeous science-fiction film. It's inventive and surprising and disarmingly unique, and it's one of those rare films that's both relentlessly entertaining and also has something to say. It's the sort of story you won't be able to stop thinking about afterward, and, not to build it up too much or get embarrassingly hyperbolic, but goddamn—in a whole lot of ways, this thing feels like a game-changer. ERIK HENRIKSEN Cinetopia.
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.
Bela Lugosi gonna get ya. Academy Theater.
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 Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing.
See review. Various Theaters.
"Okay, so we got a trooper pulls someone over, we got a shooting, these folks drive by, there's a high-speed pursuit, ends here, and then this execution-type deal." Fifth Avenue Cinema.
The Fifth Estate
See review. Various Theaters.
Filmusik: Turkish Rambo
Filmusik proves a live score for 1983's Vahi Kan, Yerli Rambo, "a nearly scene-by-scene remake of its American counterpart, adding a few flourishes along the way (notably, zombies and bulldozers)." Hollywood Theatre.
Filmed in a grand old theater outside of Seattle, the low-budget Ghostlight makes good use of the spooky 1901 building. It's the story that's a little thin. A man wins a radio contest where he has to spend a night in a haunted theater, and if he makes it to the morning he can pocket $50,000. His jittery wife begs him not to go, because she can see the ghosts that still wander around the place and they're none too friendly. What could easily fit into a season two episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, seems stretched to fill 90 minutes, in this solid, if unexciting, ghost story. COURTNEY FERGUSON Clinton St. Theater.
In this Netflix era, it's remarkable to be reminded what going to the movies can feel like: dwarfed by bright images on a massive screen, drenched in sound, hearing a collective gasp rush through a crowd of strangers. So when a big-budget film comes along that works—that hums along with grace and intensity, that makes you feel small, that manages to elicit that gasp—it's worth noting. So: See Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
See review. Living Room Theaters.
Inequality for All
Here's what's up: Median household income has fallen every year since 2007—we're now back to 1988 levels. In that same time period, the nation's per-person gross domestic product has shot up 40 percent. But when adjusted for inflation, the average male worker makes less than he did in the late '70s, while the top one percent of American earners make twice what they did back then. We're in trouble, is the thing. And if that message comes off as a stale Occupy Wall Street platitude or another grim snippet of economic woe, watch the excellent Inequality for All. Then see how you feel. The documentary is a sharp rejoinder to people who mindlessly trot out the word "communist" at any mention of tax increases on the wealthy, who instill moneyed "job creators" with Christ-like powers, as if there would be jobs to create without the dying middle class. It's an eminently watchable, important, and useful film that will reframe how you view America's economic malaise and the staggering income inequality that fuels it. DIRK VANDERHART Hollywood Theatre.
I really like the first Machete movie. I liked Danny Trejo as a bitter ex-Federale, unleashing bloody and creative retribution on racists and Minutemen. I liked Michelle Rodriguez as the foxy leader of a network of undocumented immigrants. I liked the scene where Machete uses a man's intestines to climb down the side of a building. And, uh... I liked its politics. For a movie based on a fake Grindhouse trailer, it was fun, silly, over the top, and way better than it should have been. But the new sequel Machete Kills is not fun. Machete Kills is long and tedious, and it recycles its gags with the relentless, tone-deaf insistence of a bad comedian repeating a punchline because he doesn't think you got the joke. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
Khari "Conspiracy" Stewart is an emcee who once enjoyed success in Toronto's underground hiphop scene. He knows beyond all doubt he's being tormented by a pair of interstellar demons who tell him, for instance, he could end their torture by putting a bullet in his brain. If that sounds confused and a bit depressing, you've got a handle on The Mars Project, the new documentary that chronicles Stewart's struggle with schizophrenia. The project, created by a friend of Stewart's, laudably attempts to separate the disease from the stigma of violence that so often tags along. In this, at least, it is partially successful. DIRK VANDERHART Hollywood Theatre.
Mother of George
A Nigerian couple in Brooklyn has trouble conceiving a child. Just grab one of those New York orphans, you guys! Brooklyn's lousy with 'em! Living Room Theaters.
A monthly "open screening potluck" that combines food and experimental film. More at cstpdx.com. Clinton St. Theater.
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.
Romeo & Juliet
This Romeo and Juliet shamelessly gropes at the wallets of young millennials who probably haven't had the pleasure of SparkNoting Shakespeare yet; the trailer rolls with a corny "#FORBIDDENLOVE" banner plastered across the bottom. But for a movie about lusty teenagers, Romeo and Juliet is decidedly unsexy—there's nary a hint of nudity or sexual tension. While there are ways to achieve tension without making a teenaged skin flick, this movie doesn't even try to do that—it just plays it safe, in every sense of the word. JENNA LECHNER Century Clackamas Town Center, Cinetopia Vancouver Mall 23.
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.
The NW Film Center's samurai film series. This week's selections: Samurai Rebellion. More at nwfilm.org. Whitsell Auditorium.
The Silence of the Lambs
"You know what you look like to me, with your good bag and your cheap shoes? You look like a rube. A well-scrubbed, hustling rube with a little taste." Laurelhurst Theater.
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, Laurelhurst Theater, St. Johns Theater and Pub, Valley Theater.
Voices in Action: Human Rights on Film
The Northwest Film Center's human rights-focused film series. This week's selection: Fatal Assistance. More at nwfilm.org. Whitsell Auditorium.
Wadjda follows an 11-year-old girl in Saudi Arabia (Waad Mohammed) who does everything she can to earn enough money to buy a bicycle. Meanwhile, her mother agonizes over whether her husband will take a second wife to bear him a son. Wadjda isn't only a visually beautiful film, but it's culturally relevant: This is the first Saudi film to be directed by a woman, and also the first that Saudi Arabia has submitted for Oscar consideration. After witnessing Saudi culture in the film—a culture that forbids girls from riding bicycles and being seen in public by or with men—it's shocking to think that women were allowed to act in Wadjda, let alone that one was allowed to direct it. ROSE FINN Cinema 21.
A horror movie about Bigfoot that wasn't screened for critics. But wait! It was directed by Bobcat Goldthwait! But wait! Keep in mind that Goldthwait is actually a pretty good director—dude did World's Greatest Dad and God Bless America. Maybe his Bigfoot movie will be awesome? Director in attendance. Hollywood Theatre.