12 O'Clock Boys
The Portland Black Film Festival presents an encore screening of a documentary about Baltimore's "hundred-person-strong squadron of dirt bike racers who love to choke up the streets and cause a ruckus." Hollywood Theatre.
20 Feet From Stardom
A documentary that turns the spotlight away from the biggest music stars of the last 60 years and onto their backup singers. These singers—often women, mostly black—are responsible for some of the most memorable sounds of popular music. Most of us don't even know their names. 20 Feet from Stardom is fabulous for its music, interviews, and amazing concert and studio footage spanning several decades. But it's more than just eye candy for wannabe rockers and sentimental boomers; it also asks some big questions about fame, art, and giving credit where it's due. ELINOR JONES Living Room Theaters.
3 Days to Kill
Kicking off with a reasonably coherent hotel shootout, 3 Days to Kill follows a CIA badass (Kevin Costner) facing retirement after an ominous medical diagnosis. As he attempts to reconcile with his wife (Connie Nielsen) and daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) in Paris, a mysterious femme fatale (Amber Heard) drags him back into the spy game. Director McG keeps things together for the first act, but then succumbs to the utterly random nature of the script, as a series of wacky stereotypes and errant stabs at symbolism wander onto the screen and then refuse to leave. When a girl's first tender kiss is juxtaposed with her father wiping out a roomful of goons, any last remnants of rational thought sputter out. ANDREW WRIGHT 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.
Adult World is about letting your dreams die. John Cusack is in it. Emma Roberts plausibly plays a grating young woman who wants to be a poet; when the film begins, she's trying to kill herself by placing a bag over her head. The plastic bag is labeled "Adult World." It's not just a metaphor—it's also the name of the ma-and-pop porn store where she's forced to make her living, 'cause poetry don't pay. (Porn store? Like... for rentals? Just go with it.) I'm still not sure how I feel about this movie: Do I agree with its apparent premise that reality TV and parental coddling have left millennials with unrealistic expectations for what their lives should be like? Or do I question the notion that young people are starry-eyed narcissists whose self-esteem has been falsely inflated by one too many soccer trophies? Here's what I do know: I enjoyed this movie; I related to Cusack's grouchy-old-man character; and American Horror Story's Ethan Peters, who plays the love interest, is kind of a dreamboat. ALISON HALLETT Laurelhurst Theater.
Afternoon of a Faun:
Tanaquil Le Clercq
Tanaquil Le Clercq was one of the top ballerinas of the 20th century, a muse (and a wife) to legendary choreographer George Balanchine. That is, until she contracted polio in her late 20s and became permanently paralyzed and never danced again. (Sounds like a total tragedy, but it turns out it wasn't.) This thorough documentary gives an insider's look into the merciless schedule of a top-class ballerina; dance enthusiasts will love the archival footage of Le Clercq in her heyday. JENNA LECHNER Cinema 21.
Decades after Alphaville was made—and Breathless was made, and Band of Outsiders was made, and whatever other Godard films you want to remember were made—it can be hard to drill through the ossified crust of reverence and influence that has grown over Godard's work. (Extra credit if, before seeing Alphaville, you take the time to reread Haruki Murakami's After Dark.) But the surprising, welcoming thing about this digital restoration is how quickly such barriers fade: Alphaville is still a haunting, fascinating place. ERIK HENRIKSEN Cinema 21.
The Hollywood's series features B-movies, with the audience marking down clichés on a custom-made bingo card. This time around: Action U.S.A. Hollywood Theatre.
Terrence Malick's first film, from 1973, starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek. Romantic and creepy and gorgeous, it's a better film than most directors ever make. Malick used it as a starting point. ERIK HENRIKSEN Laurelhurst Theater.
See My, What a Busy Week! Hollywood Theatre.
Classics from Studio Ghibli
See Film, this issue. Whitsell Auditorium.
An Evening with Elijah Hasan
Work from Portland artist and filmmaker Elijah Hasan, including five shorts and a half-hour-long documentary about jazz musician Chuck Israels. Director in attendance. Whitsell Auditorium.
Fat Tuesday with Les Blank
Two films from documentarian Les Blank—1973's Dry Wood and 1978's Always for Pleasure—along with jambalaya, gumbo, and cornbread. Clinton Street Theater.
See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
It's saying something that the NW Film Center's month-long retrospective of cinema's second greatest Burt has so much good stuff that it doesn't even need to include Burt Lancaster classics like From Here to Eternity, Judgment at Nuremberg, and my personal favorite, Local Hero. Opening weekend includes noir thriller Criss Cross and hokey seafaring swashbuckler The Crimson Pirate (in which Lancaster does his own impressive stunts), but your best pick by far is 1957's excellent Sweet Smell of Success. Lancaster's great, and so is Tony Curtis as a blood-sniffing press agent (aren't they just the worst?), but the real star is the stunning black-and-white photography of New York City, looking supremely glamorous and threateningly seedy all at once. NED LANNAMANN Whitsell Auditorium.
Paulina García—the Gloria of Gloria—got her start in Chilean soap operas in the 1980s, but there's no turgid drama or wild-eyed emoting in Gloria. Uncomfortable moments are endured; confrontations are small but pointed. When a person disappears, they don't storm out of the room, they're just quietly gone. Gloria isn't fast paced, but then neither is life. And, in her first feature lead, García is absolutely excellent; she's in every frame, entirely inhabiting the role and making each moment true. BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT Living Room Theaters.
Holy Ghost People
A girl goes looking for her sister, "who has gone missing deep in the Appalachian Mountains." Total number of good things that have ever happened deep in the Appalachian Mountains: zero. Clinton Street Theater.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Disappointingly competent, 2012's The Hunger Games... well, at least it got the basics right. It was a fine adaptation—totally, forgettably, blandly fine. So it's a pretty excellent surprise that its sequel is an order of magnitude better: Catching Fire will please whatever it is that Hunger Games fans call themselves (Hangries? Katnips? Peetaphiles?), but also stands as something fun and intense and thrilling. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
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 isn't much of anything. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
Nothing But a Man
Michael Roemer's 1964 film about a black teacher (Ivan Dixon) in the 1960s. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
A nerve-wracking look at the life of Omar, a Palestinian freedom fighter whose life begins to unravel when he participates in his first serious action against Israeli occupying forces. Combining a web of spy intelligence and interpersonal conflict, Omar is valuable for both its storytelling ability and for its too-rare perspective at the heart of a seemingly endless conflict. MARJORIE SKINNER Living Room Theaters.
The Passion of Joan of Arc
Carl Theodor Dreyer's 1928 film about Joan of Arc. And her passion! For calzones. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
Pompeii is certainly not a good, or particularly skillful, or even a wholly competent movie. But for a good 30 minutes, it offers a bugnuts, plotless action ride, as a CG mountain handsomely explodes, and Romans and gladiators try to slice each other to death with swords. Considering that we already know how badly it's going to end, Pompeii tries a lot harder than it needs to. Watching it fail is probably more fun than it would have been to watch it succeed. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
Portland Oregon Women's
Film Festival (POW Fest)
The seventh annual festival focusing on women directors. For more info, see next week's Mercury and powfest.com. Hollywood Theatre.
Queen of the Sun
"A profound, alternative look at the tragic global bee crisis" from the director of The Real Dirt on Farmer Joh—OH, NO! NOT THE BEES! NOT THE BEES! AAAAAHHHHH! OH THEY'RE IN MY EYES! MY EYES! AAAAHHHHH! AAAAAGGHHH! Screens as a benefit for Salem's GeerCrest Farm. 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.
Some Laotian villagers believe that if twins are born, one is always evil, so both must be killed. Young Ahlo's twin died during childbirth, but his mother convinced his superstitious grandmother to let him live; as a result, he grows up taking the blame for the family's many misfortunes. Ahlo enters a rocket-building competition in the hopes of getting back into his family's good graces, which is exactly as sweet, sad, and charming as you'd imagine. ELINOR JONES Cinema 21.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
A terrible movie. Directed by and starring Ben Stiller (and co-starring a bored Kristen Wiig and Adam Scott's terrible beard), here's how it "improves" upon James Thurber's famous short story about a downtrodden man who daydreams his way through his life: 1. It throws in a romantic subplot. 2. It turns Walter Mitty's daydreams into a self-helpy parable about the need to live a fully actualized life. 3. Walter Mitty is good at skateboarding! 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 Avalon, Edgefield, Liberty Theatre, Mt. Hood Theatre.
Sex Worker Film Series
A series offering "the best films by and about sex workers." This week's selection: Or (My Treasure). More at cstpdx.com. Clinton Street Theater.
Son of God
Heads up, people who love Jesus! Here's a movie allllll about Jesus! Please note that the role of "Mary, Mother of Jesus" is played by Roma Downey, star of Touched by an Angel and a noted Satanist. Various Theaters.
The latest hiking film from Scott "Squatch" Herriott (Flip Flop Flippin'). Laurelhurst Theater.
The Wind Rises
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
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.
"For what we are about to see next, we must enter quietly into the realm of genius." Academy Theater.