In 2011, John Michael McDonagh wrote and directed The Guard, a clever buddy cop flick starring Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle. Only McDonagh's second feature, the excellent Calvary strikes into far darker territory: Father James Lavelle (Gleeson) is in his confessional when he learns he's going to be killed. A man—unseen to us—sits in the shadows and speaks in a calm, strong voice hardened by years of anger. When he was a boy, the man says, a Catholic priest abused him; now the man wants revenge. Killing a guilty priest, the man says, isn't enough: He's going to kill an innocent one. In one week's time, he's going to kill Father Lavelle. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
The Color Wheel
Alex Ross' film about siblings who "bicker and banter their way around the delicate and disquieting truths they share." Like Men in Black! Fifth Avenue Cinema.
Portland director JR Ralls' live-action adaptation of the ridiculous Jack Chick tract from the '80s about the threat Dungeons & Dragons poses to your fragile little minds. Academy Theater.
Vancouver, BC director Ben Ratner's story of mentorship and friendship among three artistic women. Director in attendance. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
I like to imagine the origin story of Drifter, a new, local B-movie: Task kooky aunt and uncle to shoot a low-budget horror flick in less than 48 hours. Weird uncle is a real estate agent, so they come up with a plot about a mentally ill drifter who kills painters, plumbers, and partiers in a vacant house. Aunt and uncle then hang out naked in the house's sauna for an overly long period of time while the camera's rolling. Sure, those two have a good sense of humor—but there they go humping in the hot tub again. Director in attendance. COURTNEY FERGUSON Clinton Street Theater.
John Waters' shtick, circa 1974. Hollywood Theatre.
Grindhouse Film Festival
The Grindhouse Film Festival presents 1974's Street Law, starring the original Django, Franco Neri, as the wrong guy to kidnap during a bank robbery. Hollywood Theatre.
Short documentaries made by students in the NW Documentary Workshop, plus music from Renegade Stringband. More info: nwdocumentary.org. Hollywood Theatre.
If I Stay
Chloë Grace Moretz stars in a film in which a young woman has an out-of-body experience, then "must decide whether to wake up and live a life far different than she had imagined." Ten bucks says Chloë Grace Moretz's alternate life is one where she said no to that Carrie remake. Various Theaters.
Island of Lemurs: Madagascar
A movie about lemurs. For kids. Do kids like lemurs? Seems like kids would like lemurs. So here it is: Island of Lemurs: Madagascar. Various Theaters.
Colin (Paul Eenhoorn) doesn't really have a say in the matter. When he arrives at the Kentucky home of Mitch (Earl Lynn Nelson), his former brother-in-law and a recently retired doctor, the reserved Colin expects to have dinner and catch up. But Mitch has other plans: He's booked them two first-class tickets to Iceland. Promising "the hot springs, the juicy, fantastic lobsters, and the gorgeous broads," the rowdy Mitch won't take no for an answer—and soon enough, the two septuagenarians are rumbling through Iceland's primal vistas in a massive Hummer, living it up in Reykjavík, and getting lost everywhere from night clubs to tundra, all while making their way through Mitch's copious supply of weed. Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz's boisterous comedy is fresh, earnest, and charming. ERIK HENRIKSEN Cinema 21.
Life After Beth
The premise of Life After Beth is great: A young man (Dane DeHaan) refuses to accept the fact that his girlfriend (Aubrey Plaza) is slowly, disgustingly, and undeniably turning into a zombie. Unfortunately, this smirky little comedy fails to offer a single compelling character, and its gags all have an undeniable whiff of self-satisfaction. The whole thing ends up feeling like an elaborate run-around the fact that Aubrey Plaza's not actually a very good actor. ALISON HALLETT Living Room Theaters.
The One I Love
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
Portland Film Festival
See Film, this issue. Various Theaters.
Barry Levinson's family drama is less known for the really solid work Tom Cruise turned in and more for the fact that Dustin Hoffman farted in a phone booth while invoking the name of Judge Wapner. Laurelhurst Theater.
A film series sponsored by In Other Words Feminist Community Center. This week's film: Chisholm '72: Unbought and Unbossed. More at cstpdx.com. Clinton Street Theater.
This time, the television time-warp series celebrates the greatest TV program of all fucking time with "Vicefest: The 30-Year Anniversary of Miami Vice"! Check out two excellent episodes from season two ("Bushido," directed by the admirable Edward James Olmos, and "Payback," starring Frank Zappa), along with the Portland-set spoof Portland Vice, '80s music videos from Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas, vintage commercials, and super-smooth wine coolers. ERIK HENRIKSEN Hollywood Theatre.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
A lot of people had a lot of complaints about Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller's first Sin City, citing the wooden dialogue and that every female character was either a stripper or a prostitute. Fans of the comic justified those flaws by saying that Miller was commenting on a long tradition of noir storytelling, from Chandler to Spillane. But A Dame to Kill For’s dialogue and female representation is so impossibly bad that it retroactively makes the first film, and the comics from which these films were adapted, look terrible. This is not a smart, respectful tribute to noir filmmakers and storytellers; it’s an unmoored succession of “cool” moments strung together with no overarching narrative or aesthetic sense, a couple of dumb boys fucking around with their toys. PAUL CONSTANT Various Theaters.
To Be Takei
An informative profile of Star Trek-star turned activist George Takei. Hollywood Theatre, Kiggins Theatre.
Top Down: Rooftop Cinema
The NW Film Center's rooftop screening series, held on top of the Hotel deLuxe's parking garage. Screening on Thursday, Aug 21 is Edward Scissorhands; screening on Thursday, Aug 28 is The King of Comedy. Hotel deLuxe.
When the Game Stands Tall
One more generic sports movie. Time to rewatch Friday Night Lights! Various Theaters.
The Zero Theorem
See review this issue. On Demand, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video.