Aguirre, the Wrath of God
1972's Aguirre is a pretty big deal in the Werner Herzog/Klaus Kinski canon, and for good reason. Klaus Kinski's Aguirre is one of a bunch of idiotic conquistadores who're ineptly hacking their way through South America in search of El Dorado; when Aguirre sets up a mutiny, chaos erupts, people die, and monkeys take over a raft. Like another Herzog/Kinski joint, Fitzcarraldo, Aguirre takes its time getting going, but once it does, watch out. ERIK HENRIKSEN Fifth Avenue Cinema.
Wise-crackin' Private First Class William Hudson didn't expect this. With only four weeks left on his deployment, he and his fellow Colonial Marines had just one mission left—a routine trip to desolate moon LV-426, where they'd ensure the safety of Ellen Ripley, who claimed to have survived an encounter with some kind of... alien. But Hudson's mission was anything but routine... and as the Xenomorphs swarmed over his bleeding body, Hudson had a final, terrified thought. Game over, man, he thought. Game over. Academy Theater.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
In 2012, when we got the Spider-Man reboot no one really asked for, the implied promise was that as soon as all these re-introductions were taken care of, we could expect a sequel that would truly be... amazing. But in this incarnation, Peter Parker crosses the line of well-meaning smartass into full-blown Justin Bieber douchery. And in what universe does anyone root for Justin Bieber? WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
The Hollywood's series features B-movies, with the audience marking down clichés on a custom-made bingo card. This time around: 1989's One Man Force, starring former Oakland Raider John Matuszak. Hollywood Theatre.
Loosely based on the real-life subject of a portrait that currently hangs in a Scottish castle, Belle is a very Jane Austen-esque portrayal of Dido Elizabeth Belle. The illegitimate child of an African slave and an English gentleman, she was nonetheless raised among the high society of her father's side. There's plenty of fictionalization here, but the basic facts of the real Belle's unusual position allow the film to effectively tackle a satisfying blend of social and personal issues. Race isn't usually the primary topic of such impeccably costumed drawing rooms and garden parties (fear not: husband-hunting remains a close second), but Belle's subject matter is more remarkable than its form—not a bad thing if you appreciate a well-executed, romantic (if conventional) sweep of a period drama (and I do). MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters.
What can we say about Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore's Blended? Well, let's start with the obvious: It's fucking terrible and will make you wish you were dead. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
In order to enjoy Chef, it's necessary to swallow the notion that there's anything novel about a fancy chef starting a food cart. It's a bit of a strain—especially considering, well, Portland—but it's worth making the leap. Chef might be a little too taken with the concept of food trucks using Twitter, but on the whole, Jon Favreau (who wrote, directed, and stars) has put together a smart, ramblingly charming little film. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
Cédric Klapisch's final installment in his "Spanish Apartment" trilogy, following 2002's L'Auberge Espagnole and 2005's Russian Dolls. Living Room Theaters.
Cold in July
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
Cycling with Moliere
A narcissistic soap star casts a former friend, a now-reclusive misanthrope, to play the misanthrope in his staging of the 17th century play The Misanthrope. The two men grapple with one another as they rehearse; plenty of meta moments ensue. Dry and slow, but the performances are great. JENNA LECHNER Living Room Theaters.
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.
Writer/director/actor Richard Ayoade has two feet firmly in comedic quirk. He's most recognizable as straight-laced, bespectacled Moss from the British comedy series The IT Crowd, and his directorial film debut, 2010's Submarine, was a smart, offbeat take on the coming-of-age genre. But while there's a subtle, sly sense of humor to Ayoade's new project, an adaptation of the Dostoyevsky novella The Double, for the most part, it's about as far from the world of quirky comedies as it's possible to get. It's not an entirely satisfying experience, if we define "satisfying" as "plot tied up with a bow on it"—but it is a curious, provocative, and absorbing one. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
Experimental Film Festival Portland
See Feature, this issue. Various Locations.
Given that it lacks both the haunting allegory of Ishirō Honda's 1954 Godzilla and the wit and personality of last year's Pacific Rim, it's a good thing this Godzilla nails the spectacle. And holy shit, does it ever nail the goddamn spectacle: San Francisco gets wrung through the wringer in Godzilla's second half, and while director Gareth Edwards nods to other, better stories about man overstepping his bounds (both 2001: A Space Odyssey and Jurassic Park get shout-outs), he's more intent on setting monsters loose than saying anything deep. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
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 Cinema 21, Hollywood Theatre.
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 installment's victim: Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding. Hollywood Theatre.
Boutique movie stars Marion Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix star in a drama that wasn't screened for critics? As arthouse omens go, that's a pretty lousy one. Various Theaters.
At first, Frank Pavich's documentary seems like little more than a glorified DVD bonus feature—a "making of" doc, with the catch that the film it chronicles the making of doesn't exist. In 1984, when the big-budget faceplant of David Lynch's Dune was released, few people knew that audiences could have seen something else entirely. For years, Alejandro Jodorowsky had desperately been trying to make his version of Dune—a film he humbly thought would be "the most important picture in the history of humanity." Jodorowsky's Dune is about his still-burning passion, and it's by turns exciting and heartbreaking to hear him explain—see him show—what might have been. ERIK HENRIKSEN Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
Klik! Animation Festival
They do more in Amsterdam than just smoke weed and drown their french fries in mayo. They also make really good cartoons, and this internationally-known festival concludes its first U.S. tour in Portland. Hollywood Theatre.
A follow-up to Restrepo that picks up right where the 2010 documentary left off: same men, same war, but a completely different look at the Afghanistan conflict. Director Sebastian Junger in attendance. Whitsell Auditorium.
The Films of Leos Carax
Enfants terribles rarely age well, but Leos Carax somehow manages to renew his freshness date with every film. Carax may not work all that often—just five features in 30 years—but as the NW Film Center's terrific retrospective shows, each project that emerges arrives with a ferocious amount of energy. ANDREW WRIGHT Whitsell Auditorium.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
"Let them eat ca—URRRRK." Fifth Avenue Cinema.
A Million Ways to Die in the West
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
Neighbors pits cranky-old-man Mac (Seth Rogen), his wife Kelly (Rose Byrne), and their shockingly adorable baby Stella (some baby) against the shenanigantastic fraternity next door, led by frat president Zac Efron. It's sort of annoying that Neighbors thinks it has to have any sort of moral, but there's some Serious Business about growing up crammed into the end. Spoiler: It's not the worst thing in the world! Babies are cute! If you need someone to explain those facts to you while you laugh at some dick jokes, then Neighbors is the middle-of-the-road comedy for you. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
Only Lovers Left Alive
It would be dumb to recommend a new vampire flick without acknowledging that the genre has been awful in recent years. We agreed not so long ago as film-going people that vampires were over. Luckily, Jim Jarmusch didn't get the memo, and Only Lovers Left Alive is totally different, weird, and fantastic. ELINOR JONES Hollywood Theatre.
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
The Reach of Resonance
A documentary exploring music as a means to develop relationships, featuring subjects ranging from a guy who translates seismic readings into music to the Kronos Quartet. Whitsell Auditorium.
So. Let's see. This week you have a choice between a gimmick western from the guy culpable for Family Guy (A Million Ways to Die in the West), or you have a legit western classic (Shane). Choose wisely. Laurelhurst Theater.
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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
The Wind Rises
A flight-crazy young Japanese boy follows his dreams, which lead to some unexpected paths during wartime. Hayao Miyazaki's directorial swan song has raised some critical hackles for its real-life subject matter, but his combination of seemingly effortless weightlessness and surprising moral gravity feels as entrancing as ever. ANDREW WRIGHT Laurelhurst Theater.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
You could do a lot worse if you want to see Wolverine wave his claws around while Magneto lectures boring regular people about how fancy he is. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.