300: Rise of an Empire
With a sequence of events strangely encircling those of the first 300, Rise of an Empire courageously commits itself to the Speed principle of sequel-making: (1) Replace your leading man (Gerard Butler, seen here only in muted footage, presumably left over from the previous film), and (2) throw the whole thing onto a boat. Otherwise it's more or less the same deal as its obscenely successful predecessor: Casting still favors abs over acting ability, it's still a homoerotic nightmare of blood and glory, and it's still pretty racist (maybe slightly less racist?). ZAC PENNINGTON Jubitz Cinema, Valley Theater.
See review. NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
See review . Various Theaters.
The Apu Trilogy
Satyajit Ray's acclaimed trilogy—1955's Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road), 1956's Aparajito (The Unvanquished), and 1959's Apur Sansar (The World of Apu)—all presented on newly restored 35mm prints. For specific showtimes, see nwfilm.org. Whitsell Auditorium.
In theory, Bad Words should be a lot of fun—it's a dark comedy about a spelling bee, and it follows an adult (Jason Bateman) who bends the rules in order to enter the kids' contest for his own nefarious ends. But the ratio of mean-spiritedness-to-cleverness is off, and Bad Words leaves a bad taste. ALISON HALLETT Academy Theater, Edgefield, Kennedy School, Laurelhurst Theater, St. Johns Theater and Pub.
No, not those kind of bears. This is a Disney movie. For children. About bears. The other kind of bears. Various Theaters.
A tight Dirty South revenge thriller that looks much better than its presumably low budget. Most notable is the almost entirely wordless first act, which introduces Dwight (Macon Blair), a high-functioning hobo on the Delaware boardwalk, and sets him on an odyssey of mayhem and graphic crossbow wounds. In many ways Ruin feels like a rebuke to blockbuster murderfests, with languorous editing, intentionally low stakes, and periodic moments of levity. It's also sparsely worded, intensely violent, and occasionally meandering. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's clearly the product of talent you should keep an eye on. BEN COLEMAN Cinema 21.
"Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown." Laurelhurst Theater.
Divergent's concept reads like someone ran the SparkNotes plot summary of The Hunger Games through Google translate several times, then read it aloud in a mocking voice after six tequila shots. It's about a society that enforces conformity by dividing people into houses districts factions according to whether they are smart, brave, peaceful, giving, or honest—but there are a few special people called divergents who don't fit into any category because they're so special. (MILLENNIALS, AMIRITE.) ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
Kevin Costner plays Sonny Weaver, the general manager of the Cleveland Browns. Draft Day takes place on draft day (SPOILER!); after making a risky last-minute deal to secure the number-one pick, Sonny falls under intense pressure from the team's owner and fans, who've got their sights set on a hotshot young quarterback. It's no Friday Night Lights, but as sports entertainment goes, it's broadly appealing and mercifully un-macho. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
Finding Vivian Maier
Finding details the landmark uncovering of now-deceased photographer Vivian Maier's secret archives—more than 100,000 images that document the streets of New York, Chicago, South America, rural France, and beyond in the latter half of the 20th century with an arresting sense of timing, humanity, and melancholy. Her eye is the sort that can't be taught or bottled, an instinct that resembles a journalist's as much as a poet's. As an introduction to the mysterious artist who's arguably one of the most important street photographers of all time, Finding is fantastic, even if the motives of the filmmaker (who happens to be the sole caretaker of her archives) are questionable at times. MARJORIE SKINNER Cinema 21.
Free Angela and All Political Prisoners
A documentary about activist Angela Davis, who went from "an obscure, academic UCLA philosophy professor to the poster girl for domestic terrorism." Whitsell Auditorium.
A digital restoration of the first, best Godzilla movie. 100 percent Raymond Burr free. Hollywood Theatre.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The excellent phrase "a glimmer of civilization in the barbaric slaughterhouse we know as humanity" is used twice in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Those words could refer to 1) the Grand Budapest Hotel, a pink and white and pristine resort that, like a colossal, obnoxiously ornate gâteau, sits high in the mountains of the Republic of Zubrowka. Or they could refer to 2) M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), the revered concierge of said establishment. With his sharp purple jacket, crisp black bowtie, and immaculate mustache, Gustave rules the Grand Budapest with enchanting grace and fastidious obsession, ensuring everyone is doted on—particularly the guests he takes a liking to. And there's one final thing those words might refer to: 3) Wes Anderson's latest, The Grand Budapest Hotel. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Marco Berger's "taut and unusual love story set almost entirely in a single location." Weirdly, that location is not Hawaii. Director in attendance. Whitsell Auditorium.
Heaven Is for Real
The latest in a series of low-budget religious movies put out by Hollywood to capture the elusive "movies are too risqué for me" dollar. The movie adapts a 2010 book by Pastor Todd Burpo about the time his 4-year-old son Colton had a particularly vivid dream. About going to Heaven! The adults take Colton's dream about Heaven so seriously because "Everything he says is impossible!" and his memory of Heaven is "very specific." Equally vague are Colton's claims that "Heaven is beautiful" and "nobody wears glasses in Heaven." I'm more persuaded by the portrayal of the afterlife in All Dogs Go To Heaven, though both movies agree that there will be domesticated animals in paradise. ALEX FALCONE Various Theaters.
New 35mm prints of work from husband-and-wife animators John and Faith Hubley. Whitsell Auditorium.
"Horror, suspense, and cult favorites," accompanied by live music and other performances. More at cstpdx.com. Clinton Street Theater.
Fifteen percent of the United States' population lives in poverty. That's a lot of poor people, living a lot of different kinds of lives. It's weird, then, that when poor people turn up in movies and on television, their stories always seem to feature the same few elements: 1) The South, 2) Bad teeth, and 3) Weird sex stuff. David Gordon Green's Joe hits those povertysploitation benchmarks with the businesslike efficiency of a dead-eyed, trailer-trash hooker. (Check!) ALISON HALLETT Living Room Theaters.
KBOO at the Clinton
Films presented by local radio station KBOO. More at cstpdx.com. Clinton Street Theater.
To watch Noah is to see Darren Aronofsky earnestly trying to flesh out a Bible story that, in the original version, doesn't necessarily make a ton of sense. Noah is a movie that posits the profound hypothesis that maybe mankind is forever cursed to defy God and nature because of our irrational love of our own progeny. That's a pretty heavy thought, and to see it come from a movie full of prehistoric hoodies, pregnancy tests performed with a leaf, a protagonist who growls "I want justice!", and CGI rock people voiced by Nick Nolte (who, let's be honest, was born to voice a rock person), is completely, righteously, gloriously fucking insane. VINCE MANCINI Various Theaters.
Oculus is much better than any flick about a murderous mirror has any right to be. COURTNEY FERGUSON Various Theaters.
Only Lovers Left Alive
See review. Fox Tower 10.
The Other Woman
A lot like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, except the pants are Jaime Lannister and they give everyone who wears them chlamydia. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
Hey, this should shut your kids up for a few minutes. Various Theaters.
Sex Worker Film Series
A series offering "the best films by and about sex workers." This week's selection: Mr. Angel. More at cstpdx.com. Clinton Street Theater.
A Standing Still
A Pacific Northwest-shot film about a young woman working as a fire lookout. Director in attendance. Whitsell Auditorium.
The Stories of Our Watersheds
Fifteen short films meant to "foster dialogue about multidisciplinary approaches to stream restoration and watershed and river science." Alas, not a single one of them is The River Wild. Hollywood Theatre.
A science-fiction movie that, in trying to be about the singularity, ends up just being about Johnny Depp's disembodied head. There are too many characters, too many big ideas, and too much plot for two hours; in a futile effort to keep things moving at a fast pace, every character in Transcendence makes repeated, baffling decisions, usually while spouting technobabble, until everything just kind of... stops making sense. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Under the Skin
Filmmakers—male filmmakers, especially—have a tendency to exploit Scarlett Johansson as a kind of blank, beautiful object—a weird kind of emotional prop favored by long silences and longing glances. She's implemented as this beautiful, otherworldly thing—a vague, cipher-like canvas whose surface vividly reflects whatever meaning other people project upon it. It's an unseemly kind of mishandling that Jonathan Glazer upends to marvelous effect in the sensually stunning Under the Skin. ZAC PENNINGTON Hollywood Theatre.
"Now, look what we have here before us. We got the Saracens sitting next to the Jones Street Boys. We've got the Moonrunners right by the Van Cortlandt Rangers. Nobody is wasting nobody. That... is a miracle. And miracles is the way things ought to be." Fifth Avenue Cinema.
The Winding Stream
In this inviting documentary from Vancouver, Washington, filmmaker Beth Harrington follows America's first family of music—the Carter Family—over the course of the 20th century. It's a well-constructed overview, with glimpses into the personalities of A.P., Sara, and Mother Maybelle, and the long shadow they cast over folk, country, and old-time music. It's perhaps too vast a legacy to be contained in one film, but Harrington's film is the perfect entry point into the world of the Carters, and how they brought American rural music traditions to the forefront of 20th-century culture. NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre.