1984: The Year in Videos
The people behind the Eye Candy VJ series show off the best music videos that 1984 had to offer. Includes vintage advertisements and clips from MTV News. LODER FLASHBACK! Hollywood Theatre.
The visions of a future Tokyo in Katsuhiro Otomo's 1988 Akira are even more stunningly gorgeous than you remember—although the plot, condensed from a 2,000-page manga, still doesn't make a lick of sense. NED LANNAMANN Laurelhurst Theater.
As Above, So Below
What's this? Another crappy looking horror flick that wasn't screened for critics? Why, I never.... Various Theaters.
The Hollywood's series features B-movies, with the audience marking down clichés on a custom-made bingo card. This time around: He's a samurai. He's a cop. He's Samurai Cop. Hollywood Theatre.
Best of the Northwest Animation Fest
See Film, this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
Once a year for 12 years, director Richard Linklater summoned a cast of actors to film Boyhood, an utterly unique story of an utterly conventional American childhood. Boyhood is set in the 21st century, so there are divorced parents and videogames; it's Texas, so there are guns. It unfolds over 12 years, from 2002 to the present, but there are no title cards to tell you that time is passing—instead, the years are ticked off with pop songs and Harry Potter book release parties, new haircuts and new best friends. The story is fictionalized, but the passage of time is real; the nearly three-hour result is an affecting, heartfelt masterpiece. ALISON HALLETT Century Clackamas Town Center, Cinema 21, Hollywood Theatre.
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.
A psychedelic, half-animated film that explores a dystopian future in which entertainment companies and fantasy-inducing drugs dominate human existence. Outside of Ari Folman's captivating visuals (he also made the fantastic Waltz with Bashir), the film also raises intriguing questions about our culture's relationship to celebrity and denial. MARJORIE SKINNER Laurelhurst Theater.
Nerds of a certain age (old, but not so old that our ability scores have been reduced) might dimly remember the cultural hysteria 30-plus years ago that linked role-playing games to the worship of Satan, demons, devils, and other fell demigods. It was a more closeted time for fantasy, well before Peter Jackson and George R.R. Martin brought mithril and murder into the mainstream. That fury eventually caught the fancy of comic artist Jack Chick, famous for churning out Crumb-meets-Kurtzman "religious tracts," warning heretics about the perils of ignoring his fundamentalist brand of Christianity. In just 22 panels, Chick's 1984 "Dark Dungeons" comic tells the tale of two Jesus-loving girls who fall under the sway of an dungeon master—only to take up the dark arts IRL. Last year, a Portland filmmaker, JR Ralls, got the silly idea to adapt Chick's silly screed for the screen. It's short, at 40 minutes. It's modern, somehow making RPG nerds seem like fuckable athletes. But it also faithfully recreates the original's camp and unintentional comedy. Director in attendance. DENIS C. THERIAULT Lake Theater & Cafe, VOD.
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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
A documentary about Washington's legalization of marijuana. Not nearly as funny as Up in Smoke. Director in attendance. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
The Expedition to the End
of the World
A comedic documentary following the crew of a ship as they attempt to visit the last blank areas on the world map. Living Room Theaters.
The Expendables 3
If you like explosions and playing the game, "Oh, he still does movies?" then you'll love The Expendables 3. ALEX FALCONE Various Theaters.
A Five Star Life
"The sophisticated story" of a woman (Margherita Buy) who learns very valuable things about her life and the way she lives it in the course of doing her job: inspecting five-star hotels around the world. Not screened for critics, due to its sophistication. Living Room Theaters.
An odd little comedy about what it's like to know a genius, in which Michael Fassbender hides his beautiful, beautiful face under a giant cartoon papier-mâché head while crooning stream-of-consciousness gibberish in the style of Jim Morrison. Also, Maggie Gyllenhaal is in it. FRANK BEATON Living Room Theaters.
The third-best Star Trek movie, coming in just after 1982's The Wrath of Khan and 2009's Star Trek. Hollywod Theatre.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
In The Grand Budapest Hotel, doom and death are all but unavoidable: The film is set largely in Eastern Europe in the 1930s, and just outside the hotel's doors lies the barbaric slaughterhouse we know as humanity. It's a big cast and a big story, and as an adventure and a caper, Grand Budapest is so tremendously, ridiculously fun that it would exuberantly fly off its rails if it weren't for Wes Anderson's confident touch and Ralph Fiennes' remarkable performance. If anyone tells you Grand Budapest isn't hilarious, they're dead inside, but so is anyone who thinks it's merely a screwy comedy: The darkness that peeked from the corners in Anderson's earlier films is starting to crawl out. Even with all its fantastical affectations, the film has an ominous weight. ERIK HENRIKSEN Laurelhurst Theater.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Hating Disney purifies my soul and simplifies my worldview, but despite being a mass-market product produced by an evil empire, Guardians of the Galaxy somehow feels like it was made just for me. It's so good! There's no way I'm going to be able to write about it without every word evoking the sound of saliva being sucked over a retainer. Adios, professionalism, you were no match for Chris Pratt and a talking raccoon. VINCE MANCINI Various Theaters.
This movie has a secret. Its secret is revealed in the first five minutes of the movie, but it's nowhere in the trailer. I don't think I can really talk about the movie without revealing this secret. So for those of you who want to see the movie with all its secrets unrevealed, here's a non-spoiler review of the film: It's really boring and it's probably not worth your time. For everyone else: All those giant monsters Hercules is fighting in the trailer? They're not really in the movie. They exist in a fantasy sequence in the first two minutes of Hercules, when a young storyteller is regaling some soldiers with an account of the Twelve Labors of Hercules. But the Hercules in Hercules is a legend, not a demigod. He's a normal (but incredibly strong) human man who allows his legend to be spread so he can intimidate his foes and earn a better living as a mercenary. So this is the Hercules story with all the larger-than-life mythology and magic stripped out. That is to say, it's a Hercules story that takes out all the interesting and exciting parts of the Hercules story. PAUL CONSTANT Various Theaters.
The Hundred-Foot Journey
Helmed by Lasse Hallström, in a clear bid to recapture some of that ol' Chocolat magic, The Hundred-Foot Journey focuses on Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal), a bee-yoo-ty-ful young Indian man with near-mystical skill in the kitchen. He Is the One, Whose Divine Culinary Gifts Will Bring Michelin Stars to Us All; Lo! Gaze Upon His Glory as He Transforms a Humble Pan of Béchemel Sauce into Exotic Béchemel Sauce Simply By Adding a Hitherto Mysterious Dust Called "Coriander"! Soon enough, he falls for the trés French sous chef at the restaurant across the way—much to the chagrin of her boss, Helen Mirren. The food and love stuff is harmless enough, but Journey's a fairy tale whose pretenses to a social conscience are worse than none at all. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
See review this issue. 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 Academy Theater, Liberty Theatre.
Justice Begins with Seeds
A film series intended to educate viewers on the importance of a GMO-free food supply—that no-good liar Neil deGrasse Tyson and his reasonable, well-researched scientific opinions be damned! More at cstpdx.com. Clinton Street Theater.
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 Living Room Theaters.
The Last of Robin Hood
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10, Kiggins Theatre.
Life of Crime
The late Elmore Leonard probably wouldn't be too upset about Life of Crime. The latest of the crime novelist's books to have been adapted, director Daniel Schechter's rendition of Leonard's 1978 novel The Switch is faithful but lacking in spark. It's not terrible, but it doesn't compare in verve to better Leonard film interpretations like Jackie Brown and Out of Sight. "You get paid for it. That's the main thing," Leonard told the Detroit Free Press in 2010 of having his books turned into films (or TV shows, like Justified). "And when it's good, there's nothing better." Assuming the option check cleared before his death last year, Crime's not a half-bad deal. MARJORIE SKINNER Hollywood Theatre, VOD.
Picture your college roommate Seth. You know, the incorrigible stoner who could spend hours waxing philosophic on the tiniest particles of the universe? And how each of these particles make up the very fabric of life? Hence the most powerful person in the world is basically the atomic twin of a fly alighting on a plop of donkey shit? That's deep, man. As in deeply annoying to you and the rest of your dormmates who have to listen to this windbag until he finally relinquishes the bong. For the purposes of this review, Seth is the atomic twin of beloved director/writer Luc Besson, who has produced gloriously violent works of art like The Professional, The Fifth Element, and La Femme Nikita... but with the heavy-handed Lucy, has created nothing less than donkey plop. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
Magic in the Moonlight
To be fair, Magic in the Moonlight has, in massive, euphoric doses, great heaps of the stuff that makes Woody Allen one of the world's best filmmakers: It's funny and sweet and graceful, almost overwhelmingly charming in its tale of a jaded magician, Stanley (Colin Firth), who's been tasked with using his expertise in sleight-of-hand tricks to learn how an earnest young medium, Sophie (Emma Stone), is conning her wealthy clients. Magic in the Moonlight's sense of escapism is so alluring that it's impossible not to get caught up in the crisp dialogue, magnetic characters, and postcard sights. But also to be fair: As soon as dour Stanley starts to fall for bubbly Sophie, it also became—for me, at least—impossible to forget that Firth is 28 years older than Stone. Huh. That's kind of weird, I thought, after the third or fourth time the spell of Magic in the Moonlight broke. And then: Oh, right—Woody Allen. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
A Most Wanted Man
For a movie about global terrorism, A Most Wanted Man might seem surprisingly character driven—but fans of John le Carré, whose novel the film is based upon, know to expect as much. Le Carré's built a career on spy thrillers that mine tension as much from the intricacies of human relationships as from the threat of bombs going off. In one of his final performances, Philip Seymour Hoffman stars as acerbic, heavy-drinking Günther Bachmann, a German counterterror operative charged with infiltrating the Islamic community in Hamburg. I'm glad we got to see Hoffman tackle a Le Carré project before he died: He seems perfectly at home in this shadowy world of moral ambiguity and high-stakes decision making, where trust is currency and good intentions count for exactly nothing. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
The November Man
At first, The November Man's subtle-yet-important tweaks to the Bourne formula (an R rating, no shaky cam, and very few government functionaries spouting geopolitical buzzwords in front of monitors) work perfectly—until about 40 minutes in, when you can all but hear the sound of the screenwriter's check clearing. Then it devolves from "Our involvement in this Chechen 9/11 scheme could be a political albatross!" to "Let her go!" and "If you hurt her I'll kill you!" The smart political thriller basically becomes a John Cena movie. VINCE MANCINI Various Theaters.
The One I Love
Mark Duplass plays Ethan, a husband trying to regain the trust of his wife Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) after he cheated on her. Their shrink sends them to an idyllic weekend retreat, in hopes that booze, weed, and sexy solitude will allow Ethan and Sophie to reconnect with the best versions of themselves and each other. But The One I Love makes that hope dangerously literal: Ethan and Sophie are baffled to discover that the guesthouse is inhabited by their exact dopplegangers—except Other Sophie and Other Ethan are funnier, sexier, and more relaxed. Ethan, desperate to reconnect with his wife, is suspicious of her pliable stand-in, but Sophie is susceptible to the charms of a kinder, cooler version of her husband. But for all its potential, the result is off-kilter and frustrating. ALISON HALLETT Cinema 21, VOD.
In 1980, bigshot Hollywood producer Robert Evans said, "Hey, you know that cartoon about the crusty one-eyed sailor with the spinach fetish? What if that was a movie, starring Robin Williams! Did I say movie? I meant musical, with songs by Harry Nilsson! And I want Robert Altman to make it!" And so the movie was made. And it is as amazingly weird as you'd think. Hollywood Theatre.
A digital restoration of Howard Hawks' 1959 John Wayne flick. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
A series where local filmmakers can screen in-progress works to get public feedback. This week: Tamara Rubin's MisLEAD: America's Secret Epidemic. More at cstpdx.com. Clinton Street Theater.
A digital restoration of Harold Lloyd's 1923 silent comedy. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Sex Work Film Series
A series offering "the best films by and about sex workers." This week: the documentary Dirty Diaries. More at cstpdx.com. Clinton Street Theater.
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.
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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater, Living Room Theaters, VOD.
A digital restoration of Sunset Boulevard, which deserves to go head-to-head with Citizen Kane and The Godfather for the title of the best American movie ever made. Director Billy Wilder deftly balances comedy, suspense, and drama for a movie that works on every single level. NED LANNAMANN NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
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 Edgefield, Kennedy School, Laurelhurst Theater.
Trailer Park Boys: Don't Legalize It
The long-awaited final chapter in Martin Scorsese's epic, Academy Award-winning Trailer Park Boys cinematic trilogy, with Julian, Ricky, and Bubbles all getting caught up in weedy misadventures. Clinton Street Theater.
The Trip to Italy
British comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon have figured out the ultimate racket. They've somehow convinced the BBC to send themselves and director Michael Winterbottom on sightseeing trips ostensibly geared around local gastronomy. In 2010, they visited some of the best restaurants in the north of England for a six-episode series called The Trip, which was edited into a feature film for the US. Now they're back with The Trip to Italy—another six episodes, another condensed feature film for American theaters. Coogan and Brydon aren't food critics, or even particularly knowledgeable about what they're eating. But while The Trip and The Trip to Italy have dubious culinary merit, they're terrifically hilarious, thanks to Coogan and Brydon's bitchy, improvised banter and dueling competitive streaks. NED LANNAMANN Cinema 21.
The romantic comedy has been pretty abused by Heigls and J. Los; What If is a return to the simple, classic, sweet-but-not-saccharine form. And you know what? Maybe that's why this movie made me so damn happy: Even though you know what's going to happen, getting there is a rare delight. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
The World According to Garp
One of Robin Williams' first breakout roles, in George Roy Hill's 1982 adaptation of John Irving's classic novel. Twenty percent of the Academy's ticket sales will go toward the Lines for Life suicide prevention hotline. Academy Theater.