The latest attempt at action stardom from the WWE's John Cena. John Cena is no The Rock, just in case you were wondering. Not screened for critics. Various Theaters.
This is one more damning documentary about how the nation failed New Orleans in Hurricane Katrina, but it steers clear of the impassioned, personal stories that frame Trouble the Water and When the Levees Broke. Instead, the dry but informative America Betrayed shows how the nation's failure to invest in critical infrastructure led to many terrible, man-made "natural" disasters. SARAH MIRK Hollywood Theatre.
Don't waste your time on this movie, like I did. Bob Funk (Michael Leydon Campbell) is an asshole. He thinks his life is shit, but it really isn't that bad. I think you're supposed to root for Bob, or at least feel sorry for him, but you won't. You will only feel sorry for Rachael Leigh Cook, who has to play the clichéd, "klutzy" love interest whose formulaic, inevitable involvement with Bob is really depressing. KAMALA PULIGANDLA Hollywood Theatre.
The Cake Eaters
The bladder-stretching (but excellent!) Che is intense and fascinating, despite its epic (four-and-a-half hours!) runtime. Steven Soderbergh's direction and cinematography is, as always, impressive, and Benicio Del Toro's performance as Guevara is fantastic. ERIK HENRIKSEN Hollywood Theatre.
Rudi and Trudi are an aging German couple; when Trudi dies, Rudi travels to Tokyo, where Trudi had always wanted to go. This vivid, strange film couldn't be more opposite to America's youth obsession, and its engrossment in the interior lives of people circling the drain is either something you take comfort in or not. MARJORIE SKINNER Living Room Theaters.
Michelle Pfeiffer karate-chopped her way into the hearts of her inner city students in Dangerous Minds. Hilary Swank's enormous incisors beamed the white light of hope into her post race-riot Los Angeles classroom in Freedom Writers. So how does the white teacher François Bégaudeau win over his ethnically diverse class of urban hoodlums in the French flick The Class? He doesn't, and that's why it's the best movie about a contemporary classroom made to date. ALISON HALLETT Fox Tower 10.
Coming Up Easy
Local filmmaker Rebecca Rodriguez's film is about domestic violence and sexual abuse, and resonates with an impact that outstrips its quality—simply because the subject matter is generally relegated to trashy paperbacks and made-for-TV movies about gymnasts. (That is to say, it's sensationalized and made sordid.) Coming Up Easy is by no means perfect, but it is, for the most part, even-keeled and realistic, and this forthright approach lends the film an unexpected power. ALISON HALLETT Living Room Theaters.
Andrzej Wajda's 1983 dramatization of the French Revolution. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
For a director obsessed with unexpected plot twists, Tony Gilroy's latest project feels awfully familiar. Duplicity is his latest plunge into the world of corporate espionage, and while 2007's Michael Clayton came off well, this time around, Gilroy shepherds Julia Roberts and Clive Owen through a much lighter-hearted romcom version of the game, with tepid results. MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters.
There are elements of sci-fi fan culture that deserve to be celebrated on film. Many fanboys and fangirls are imaginative, good-hearted people who are also often very sexually liberated. Instead, this film embraces every awful, homophobic, sexist, small-minded fan stereotype there is. The sad part is, fan culture is so desperate for popular-culture representation that this film has a good chance of being embraced by the very people it mocks. PAUL CONSTANT Living Room Theaters.
The Great Buck Howard
A coming of age film starring Colin Hanks and John Malkovich, and one that is only intermittently entertaining during its string of celebrity cameos, including Jon Stewart, Conan O'Brien, Tom Arnold, a weirdly moving Steve Zahn as a limo driver, and a flat-out bizarre appearance by George Takei, who wanders onto the set of a talk show to sing "What the World Needs Now Is Love." NED LANNAMANN Living Room Theaters.
The Haunting in Connecticut
Wha? A crappy looking horror flick that wasn't screened for critics? Why, I never.... Various Theaters.
Herb and Dorothy
Using the meager incomes from their librarian and post office jobs, Herbert and Dorothy Vogel managed to create one of the most important collections of modern art in the world. Herb and Dorothy is a fascinating, inspiring documentary on a couple who collect art based on three simple rules: buy what you like, buy what you can afford, and buy what you can fit in the taxi cab on the way home. MATTHEW VOLLONO Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
I Love You, Man
The affable, goodhearted I Love You, Man is very much a post-Judd Apatow comedy: It can't compete with Knocked Up or The 40-Year-Old Virgin on a laughs-per-scene basis, but its characters are similarly complex. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
The sort of bad movie that just fucking goes for it. Sometime in the third act, there's a moment I can only describe as "transcendent"—one that just kicks the whole thing into a whole other zone of bad. It is amazing to behold—for the audience, sure, but also for star Nicolas Cage, who literally falls to his knees in shock. That's how bad/amazing Knowing is: I never want to see it again, and I kind of love it. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Bob Fosse's faux documentary about Lenny Bruce, starring Dustin Hoffman as the late comedian. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Man of Marble
Andrzej Wajda's "film within a film" is a masterful deconstruction of the insidious effect propaganda filmmaking has on the individual. Both a subversive piece of political cinema and a witty send-up of documentary filmmaking, Wajda's deadpan recreation of newsreel footage would prove influential to many filmmakers, most notably Woody Allen and Wes Anderson. MATTHEW VOLLONO Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Monsters vs. Aliens
Martin Ritt's 1961 film stars Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier as bohemians in Paris. Preceded by live jazz in the lobby and two short jazz concert films (featuring the Thelonius Monk Quartet and the Bill Evans Trio). Cinema 21.
The Perfect Sleep
Nouveau indie noir? No, no, no. The Perfect Sleep is either a fanboy's honest homage to his fav genre or a satire of the same, and it's unclear which. RED FLAG. The actors take themselves too seriously (or not seriously enough), the throaty, noir-y voice of the narrator is like fingernails on a chalkboard, and I can't even tell you what it's about, because it would take this whole page, and once things get that complicated, who cares anyway. If you're in the mood for noir, stick to the classics. LOGAN SACHON Hollywood Theatre.
A surfing flick from "filmmaker/painter/curator/surfer" Thomas Campbell. Screenings will be preceded by live performances of "sun-soaked, jazz, mellow-vibes" songs from the Mattson 2, and the 9 pm screening will be followed by a 21+ afterparty at Valentines (232 SW Ankeny) at 10 pm. Clinton Street Theater.
Race to Witch Mountain
If you've ever contemplated Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's parenting skills, insofar as they relate to the remote but not inconceivable possibility of your eggs ever coming into contact with his sperm, let me put your mind at ease: The Rock would make a great baby daddy. The Rock is brave and loyal, and he will protect your love-children, even if they turn out to be telekinetic Aryan mind-readers who can nonverbally communicate with dogs. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
Scope This Too
Apparently, there was a first Scope This, and this is the sequel. It's a skateboarding movie. Clinton Street Theater.
New rule: No more buzzed-about Sundance films that include "sunshine" in the title. Please? Discovering that Sunshine Cleaning shares producers with Little Miss Sunshine is like finding out something lame that you kind of suspected might be true about the person you're interested in, but that you were willing to overlook out of optimistic desperation. It makes you feel gullible for being attracted to it. Still, one could hardly be blamed for finding comfort in the offbeat premise of a single mom, Rose (Amy Adams!), and her grungy, grumpy sister Norah (Emily Blunt!!!) going into business together as biohazard removers and crime scene cleaners, scraping up the decomposing remains of the victims of suicide, murder, and various other messy deaths. MARJORIE SKINNER Fox Tower 10.
If your grandma loved Slumdog Millionaire as much as mine did, take her to see Danny Boyle's earlier film. She's bound to enjoy it! ERIK HENRIKSEN Clinton Street Theater.
"They're under the ground. They're under the ground!" Saturday screening preceded by old movie trailers, music videos, and more. Bagdad Theater.
Waltz with Bashir
During the current moment being enjoyed by the animated documentary genre (Chicago 10, Persepolis), Waltz with Bashir will stand as a landmark triumph. Already the recipient of numerous awards, including six Israeli Academy Awards, and a nominee for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, the glowing buzz that precedes director Ari Folman's dark, hallucinatory memoir of a tour of duty during the Lebanese Civil War is justifiable. MARJORIE SKINNER Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
A Woman Under the Influence