22 Jump Street
Hollywood is littered with the decaying carcasses of failed sequels. But 22 Jump Street—the follow-up to the implausibly funny 21 Jump Street starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum—not only overcomes "the curse of the sequel," it laughs in the curse's face, shoves it down the stairs, and laughs some more. Then it feels bad about hurting the curse, and calls an ambulance to take the curse to the hospital. But don't worry! The curse is going to be okay! And trust me, the curse will go on to curse many more sequels. But oh boy—this time around? The curse couldn't lay a hand on the hilarious 22 Jump Street. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
The Battered Bastards of Baseball
See review this issue. Whitsell Auditorium, Netflix.
Surely you remember Once, that lovely indie drama from 2006 about the Irish guy and the Czech girl who connected through music, and who eventually sang their pretty song at the Oscars? Remember how sweet and plainspoken the film was, how its raw, micro-budget sensibility was so endearing? John Carney, its writer and director, remembers, and has tried unsuccessfully to duplicate the magic with the aptly named Begin Again. ERIC D. SNIDER Various Theaters.
The Breakfast Club
"Excuse me, sir. I think there's been a mistake. I know we're in detention, but I don't think I belong here." Kiggins Theatre.
A Brony Tale
See review this issue. Whitsell Auditorium.
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.
See review this issue. Kiggins Theatre.
Clash of the Titans
No, not the crappy new one. The crappy old one. Academy Theater.
A low-budget sci-fi in which "eight friends at a dinner party experience a troubling chain of reality bending events." Living Room Theaters.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
See review this issue. EEE! EEE! EEE! EEE! EEEEEEEE!! Various Ape-Controlled Theaters.
Deliver Us From Evil
What's this? Another crappy-looking horror flick that wasn't screened for critics? Why, I never.... Various Theaters.
Edge of Tomorrow
A fun, funny action movie with science-fiction smarts, deft satire, a nail-biter of a plot, and lots of cool explosions. If you see a better popcorn movie this summer, it's going to be a very good summer indeed. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
The Fault in Our Stars
John Green's The Fault in Our Stars is one of the most popular young adult novels of the last several years, and one of the rare YA titles to make serious headway with adults as well. Through the lens of two love-struck teenagers—both of whom happen to have cancer—the novel addresses mortality and illness with clarity, humor, and depth. So it's understandable that in adapting Green's novel for the screen, director Josh Boone and screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber hewed closely to it. In some regards, their respect for the novel pays off; other elements of the book probably should've stayed on the page. 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 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 at times questionable. MARJORIE SKINNER Laurelhurst Theater.
Given that it lacks both the haunting allegory of Ishiro 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.
Mel Brooks' 1977 Hitchcock parody is almost as funny as Gus Van Sant's 1998 Hitchcock parody. Laurelhurst Theater.
How to Train Your Dragon 2
One more rousing success like this and How to Train Your Dragon will be the second-best animated trilogy in history. (Nothing's gonna touch Toy Story, sorry.) ERIC D. SNIDER Various Theaters.
Jersey Boys tries to do far too much during its estimated nine-hour runtime, resulting in something that's as much Walk Hard as it is Dreamgirls. But if you have a beating heart, and love song and dance (and Christopher Walken), Jersey Boys is... for YooooOOOOOuuuuUUUUUU!!! (That last part is meant to be read in song.) ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
The Last Sentence
Jan Troell's 2012 film about Swedish journalist Torgny Segerstedt (Jesper Christensen). Living Room Theaters.
Steve James' documentary touches upon Roger Ebert's youth and his years at the Chicago Sun-Times. Along the way, Ebert wrote the screenplay for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and (unrelated) won a Pulitzer. He also hosted a series of television programs with fellow Chicago critic Gene Siskel, and the movie makes no bones about how the two rivals initially despised each other, before becoming good friends years later. Presumably, Life Itself was intended as an overview of Ebert's life (itself), but his death overshadows the rest of the film. Still, the film is a celebration of a complicated, heroic man, and as such, it's well worth seeing. I bet Ebert would agree. NED LANNAMANN Living Room Theaters, On Demand.
A young woman carefully packs lunch every day for her unappreciative husband; when the lunch is mistakenly delivered to a sour, lonely accountant, a friendship blossoms via notes passed through the daily lunchbox. Despite the premise, this isn't a meet-cute, but rather a thoughtful look at how relationships affect the texture of our lives. Plus, all of the food looks amazing. ALISON HALLETT 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.
Obvious Child will always be known, first and foremost, as "the abortion comedy." That's the pitch, the premise, and the novelty of writer/director Gillian Robespierre's great new film: It's about a young woman who has an abortion and doesn't feel bad about it. In defiance of every film trope about abortion, which insist that soul-searching and guilt must necessarily accompany a legal medical procedure, there's no equivocating about whether terminating a pregnancy makes sense for Obvious Child's main character. She doesn't agonize over her decision; she doesn't feel guilty; she doesn't pledge to write a letter to her aborted fetus on its birthday every year. She's single, unemployed, and ambitious. Of course she's going to get an abortion. But Obvious Child isn't content to simply portray abortion as the medical procedure that it is: Here, the consequences of an unprotected hookup essentially provide the "cute" in a topsy-turvy millennial meet-cute where drunken sex, pregnancy tests, and Planned Parenthood waiting rooms all come before deciding if you really even like someone. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
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 Various Theaters.
A monthly "open screening potluck" that combines food and experimental film. More at cstpdx.com. Clinton Street Theater.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
"Professor of archeology, expert on the occult, and... how does one say it? Obtainer of rare antiquities." Screens in 35mm. Hollywood Theatre.
A monthly series at the Hollywood Theatre, "showing vintage and contemporary films that are obscure, neglected, and from the fringe." This month: Ed Wood's Jailbait and "a 16mm '50s TV noir surprise." Hollywood Theatre.
Singin' in the Rain
Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds in a movie your grandmother loves. Maybe you should take her! Maybe you should try not to be a disappointment for once in your life! Hollywood Theatre.
Slaughter Nick for President
A documentary about a small-time Canadian actor who logs onto Facebook and discovers he's been "wildly famous in Serbia for almost two decades." Clinton Street Theater.
Bong Joon-ho's latest—a sci-fi movie set on a superfast futuretrain—is filmmaking as allegory, agitprop, and adventure, and it's also a film in which Chris Evans uses an ax to fuck up a whole lot of people. Come for the fantastic performances, the stunning visuals, and Bong Joon-ho's startling vision. Stay for a few handy tips on how to start a revolution. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
I was wrong about Tammy. Partially wrong, anyway. I thought I was in for 90 minutes of fat jokes at Melissa McCarthy's expense. Not because I think it's all McCarthy's capable of, but because I think it's all Hollywood thinks McCarthy is capable of. Plus, I'd seen the trailer, which features McCarthy robbing a restaurant: First she "comically" struggles to hop the counter, and then she demands pie. But Tammy is mercifully light on that sort of thing—it's a pretty sweet movie, actually. It's just not a very funny one. (That's the part I was right about.) ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
A digital restoration of Tobe Hooper's classic horror flick from 1974. Hollywood Theatre.
Crash writer/director Paul Haggis returns to the scene of his former atrocities with another series of interlocking stories that add up to bupkis. Liam Neeson is a novelist sleeping with Olivia Wilde (a scene in which Wilde runs nude through a Paris hotel is the sole reason to see Third Person). Adrien Brody is either helping a woman (Moran Atias) get her kid back from kidnappers, or is being scammed. And Mila Kunis fights James Franco for custody of their son after she maybe abused him (fun!). I'm not sure if it's a spoiler to tell you that two of the plotlines exist only in Neeson's novelist's head, as Third Person is such a mushy bungle, it's impossible to tell—or care—what Haggis is trying to convey. NED LANNAMANN Fox Tower 10.
So many of Trans4mers' scenes centering on humans would be totally unremarkable if it weren't for the copious product placement and Michael Bay's frequent inclusions of American flags in the background to remind us what these giant robots are fighting for, after all—but even with his many failings, let's be clear that Bay is absolutely a maestro at filming Imaginary Giant Robots Running Across a Screen in Slow Motion as Rain or Ash or Fire Falls in the Foreground because that's his particular genius and (as much as anyone might want to find deeper meaning in Bay's frequent attempts to mock ineffective or corrupt government agents even as he parades old-fashioned American patriotism around the screen every five minutes) he's not interested in anything besides the beautiful vulgarity of transcendental mayhem. PAUL CONSTANT Various Theaters.
Wes' World: Wes Anderson and His Influences
See Film, this issue. Whitsell Auditorium, Hotel deLuxe.