The 37th Portland International Film Festival has extended its run through Wed Feb 26. Not all films were screened for critics. Films screen at Cinema 21, Whitsell Auditorium, and the World Trade Center. For more, see "Passport PIFF" (Mercury, Feb 5); for showtimes, see nwfilm.org.
2 Autumns, 3 Winters
A film about aging French slackers that's way more likeable that it should be. Relationships and medical anomalies dominate the film's events, all relayed with good-natured humor and self-deprecation. The mood is light, but the interest level is steady. MARJORIE SKINNER
After her adult son gets involved in a horrific accident, a wealthy Romanian woman begins calling in her considerable markers. A witty, more-than-a-little Oedipal drama sparked by Luminita Gheorghiu's towering performance as a woman bent on imposing her will over reality. Every time the camera lands on her, there's something new to see. ANDREW WRIGHT
Eat Sleep Die
Raša (Nermina Lukac) is a young immigrant in a working-class Swedish town, far removed from the gloss and comfort we imagine Scandinavian life to be. She's a no-bullshit, tough-as-nails, tomboy factory worker; she's also a devoted daughter who struggles to provide for her ailing father. Eat Sleep Die is a simple film about simple people, but it is totally unforgettable. Raša is my new patronus. ELINOR JONES
Ernest and Celestine
Dark enough for adults and mild enough for children, this animated feature tells the tale of two social misfits who bridge the barriers of species (she's an artistically gifted mouse, he's a dancing bear) to form a friendship. Compelling visuals, charming dialogue, and moral instillation suggest they do still make 'em like they used to. MARJORIE SKINNER
Horses of God
Though it doesn't go so far as to ask forgiveness, Horses of God uses the suicide bombings that occurred in Casablanca in 2003 as the basis to explain what might lead someone to participate in this kind of terrorism. The answer, in brief, is to grow up in a brutal, abusive, and hopeless slum like Casablanca's Sidi Moumen. There's a level of simplicity in the film's explanation, but it's told well and with bravery. MARJORIE SKINNER
A funny, relatable film in which a seemingly ideal, near retirement aged British couple take a weekend in Paris to celebrate their anniversary. The resultant kaleidoscope of whimsy, humor, sadness, and complexity is wholly entertaining. MARJORIE SKINNER
Mary Queen of Scots
An almost gothic representation of the beautiful, well-intentioned, ill-fated queen. This romantic period drama isn't much for explanations (nothing a quick Wikipedia scan can't prepare you for) but it does breathe a dreamily creepy breath into an old, musty story. MARJORIE SKINNER
A pregnant young woman is beaten in an alley, her unborn baby deliberately killed. She joins a support group and befriends a fellow bereft mother, but one day spies the woman with her child, alive and well. If director Zack Parker had trimmed the fat, Proxy could have been 80 minutes of sleazy, plot-twisty, gory fun. But at two hours, the glacial pace amplifies Proxy's arbitrary plot, not to mention its ridiculous self-seriousness. NED LANNAMANN
Stranger by the Lake
This French film barely qualifies as anything other than pornography. It's set entirely on a gay nude/pickup beach, and the camera follows its characters into the bushes for no-holds sex scenes, money shots and all. The plot revolves around a mystery that is laughably un-mysterious, so come for the dick play, not the story. MARJORIE SKINNER
3 Days to Kill
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
About Last Night
A romantic comedy. The male characters (played by Kevin Hart [ugh] and Michael Ealy [swoon]) are your classic misogynists with hearts of gold and nice apartments who have the maturity of eighth graders. The female characters (Regina Hall and Joy Bryant) are emotionally erratic vehicles for breasts. Everybody is a co-dependent disaster! There's yelling, and a LOT of John Legend, and aside from a great moment when Kevin Hart stabs himself with a dart, it's pretty unwatchable. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
"While women will always be a problem for us, most of the great art in the world is about that very same problem. Good-looking people don't have any spine. Their art never lasts. They get the girls, but we're smarter." Academy Theater.
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
As the Palaces Burn
See review this issue. Clinton Street Theater.
The Netherlands have always been known for their crime comedies. Clinton Street Theater.
A documentary about the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, a band made up of eight sons of jazz musician Phil Cohran. Hollywood Theatre.
In 1981, a 15-year-old Brooke Shields starred in a film that was, at the time, just another in a seemingly ceaseless line of exploitative, inappropriate roles: a bizarre, R-rated teen romance called Endless Love. It's a kaleidoscopic, Vaseline-lensed, psychosexual monstrosity of a film that's neither good nor bad enough to feel all that sacred about. The 2014 remake, starring two unmemorable and uncharismatic actors, both comfortably in their mid-20s, is a semi-functional movie, which is more than you can say for the original. But it also misses the point completely. ZAC PENNINGTON Various Theaters.
Films by Jonathan Schwartz
Cinema Project presents two nights of experimental 16mm films from Jonathan Schwartz. More at cinemaproject.org. Portland State University: Shattuck Hall Annex.
The Hollywood's series, in which heckle-worthy movies are shown on the big screen—and you can text your smartass remarks from your phone, then see them pop up onscreen. This time around: Anaconda. Hollywood Theatre.
The Hollow Arm
Rarely seen outside of music-nerd realms, the harp guitar is a little like a double-necked guitar, but mostly not. It's basically a supersized guitar with a bunch of extra unfretted strings attached, often strung across an additional wooden resonating chamber (the "hollow arm" of the film's title). Local filmmaker Alden Morgan has made an exhaustive look at the many variations of the obscure instrument, with performances from harp guitar pioneer Michael Hedges as well as its current-day practitioners. Basically, it's a lot of really nice-seeming people playing technical music on very goofy-looking instruments. NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre.
The Idiocratic Life
A documentary about the "inner struggles of members of communes across America." Director in attendance. Clinton Street Theater.
The Lego Movie
The latest low-concept gem from directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street). Instead of plodding through like one more cynical big-screen commercial (hi, Transformers!), The Lego Movie manages to weave an enlivening magic spell of nostalgia that's equal parts hysterical, subversive, beautiful, and sweet. DENIS C. THERIAULT Various Theaters.
The Monuments Men
It'd be unfair to expect George Clooney's The Monuments Men to feel like Ocean's WWII, but what it does feel like is... not much of anything. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
A Night of Kenneth Anger
Short experimental films by Kenneth Anger. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
See review this issue. Living Room Theaters.
A Place in the Sun
A screening of the 1951 Elizabeth Taylor drama, screening to celebrate Taylor's birthday (Taylor's granddaughter will be in attendance) and as a fundraiser for the Cascade AIDS Project and Our House of Portland. More at hollywoodtheatre.org. Hollywood Theatre.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
Portland Black Film Festival
The second Portland Black Film Festival, curated by writer and filmmaker David Walker (BadAzz MoFo, Darius Logan: Super Justice Force) and featuring "films that are either directed by African Americans or deal with being black in America"—including 12 O'Clock Boys, Beat Street, Sidewalk Stories, a Soul Train compilation, Purple Rain, and Black Belt Jones. More at hollywoodtheatre.org. Hollywood Theatre.
A film series sponsored by In Other Words Feminist Community Center. This month: Compensation. More at cstpdx.com. Clinton Street Theater.
Like a machine, we can take RoboCop apart, breaking it down to discrete components: Writing. Directing. Acting. Editing. And disassembled, just about every piece of 2014's RoboCop remake is better than the corresponding piece of 1987's RoboCop. But there's a strange, beautiful alchemy that bubbles and hisses when one speaks of transcendent concepts such as robot cops. Par exemple: Despite each of its parts being better, 2014's RoboCop is not as good as 1987's RoboCop. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
A terrible movie. There's less a "plot" than a series of handsprings from one product placement to the next, including ads for Papa John's Pizza, McDonald's, Cinnabon, Instagram, and Patton Oswalt's shameless schilling as an eHarmony customer service rep. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
Sex Worker Film Series
A series offering "the best films by and about sex workers." This week's selection: Profane. More at cstpdx.com. Clinton Street Theater.
See Books Listings, this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
Stand by Me
Watch Stand by Me again and marvel at the latent homosexuality between Gordie (Wil Wheaton) and Chris (River Phoenix). These two troubled tweens spend the whole movie hanging back from the gang, whispering secrets, crying on each other's shoulder, sharing long, meaningful glances, and willing themselves not to pick leeches off each other's wangs—no matter how badly they want to. CHAS BOWIE Laurelhurst Theater.
A documentary about what happened when "Rwanda's first and only all women's drumming troupe" decides to open Rwanda's first ice cream shop. Ice cream: healing a nation. Clinton Street Theater.
A collage of beautiful, scattered black-and-white footage, scored by Philip Glass. We're on a merry-go-round for a few minutes; we stare at a gorilla for a few minute; we watch an arty puppet for a few minutes; we look over the moon for a few minutes. Director Godfrey Reggio (Koyaanisqatsi) has said the concept for Visitors was "slowness." Mission accomplished. JENNA LECHNER Fox Tower 10.
We Need to Talk About Kevin
Eva (Tilda Swinton) is the mother of Kevin (Ezra Miller), an eeeevil teenager who one day took his archery kit to school and started shooting arrows into people. Kevin considers itself capital-D italicized Drama, and Lynne Ramsay's over-stylized direction, laden with symbolism (Eva spends a lot of time washing red off of her hands), is pretentious and draggy. Every scene is an insulting drone. ERIK HENRIKSEN Fifth Avenue Cinema.
If you're looking for a not-completely-horrendous romance that includes time travel, a magical flying horse, a cancer kid, and Will Smith playing the devil, I'm afraid you have to keep looking, because Winter's Tale is completely, entirely, irredeemably horrendous. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, February 21-Thursday, February 27, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and available here.