Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai
Tuareg guitarist Mdou Moctar stars in this ostensible remake of Purple Rain, set in the Saharan city of Agadez in northern Niger. The culture and fantastic music depicted here—in the first fiction film shot entirely in the Tuareg language—is more than enough to hold your interest. In fact, Portland-based director Christopher Kirkley (of Sahel Sounds) might have been better off dispensing with the very loose Purple Rain ties altogether, as the film is strong enough to stand on its own without comparison. NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre.
The Ealing Comedies
See Film, this issue. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
American Sniper is basically The Hurt Locker rewritten for love-it-or-leave-it-style Americans who hate war movies that depict our enemies as actual people, rather than evil, swarthy stereotypes. However, unlike The Hurt Locker, American Sniper seriously lacks a sense of forward momentum and suspense... sooooo... hope that's not a deal breaker. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
Back the Way We Came
A concert documentary centered on Portland band the Prids. Director and band members in attendance. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Michael Mann's best films (Thief, Heat, Collateral, Miami Vice) blend hypnotic stretches of languid, ominous calm with bright flares of intensity. His cyberterrorism thriller Blackhat just kind of mumbles and stumbles. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
The Boy Next Door
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
Once upon a time in the '80s, George Lucas asked David Lynch if he wanted to make a Star Wars movie. Lynch got a migraine at the mere concept of ewoks and said no. Then he went off and got Agent Cooper to fight Sting in a leather diaper while Captain Picard played a weird guitar and carried a pug into battle. He called this glorious mess Dune. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
Grindhouse Film Festival
See My, What a Busy Week! Hollywood Theatre.
The Humbling is based on a latter day Philip Roth novel, and at a glance seems to involve a 74-year-old Al Pacino "converting" a lesbian played by Greta Gerwig. Thus, it's tempting to dismiss as just the latest and saddest example of a Great Man of American Letters subjecting us to one of his verbose and increasingly anachronistic boner fantasies (a nice counterpart in a year that brought us Listen Up Philip, a Pynchon adaptation, and whatever The Gambler was). A happy surprise it is, then, to discover The Humbling is more self-critical than self-indulgent. Pacino, playing an aging actor losing his mind and trying to talk through his increasing irrelevance with a shrink (of course), gives one of his most vulnerable, interesting performances in years. And Gerwig humanizes a character that could easily read as a male fantasy, even as the film plays with the idea that she might be one. It's better than you'd think. VINCE MANCINI Kiggins Theatre.
Indiana Jones and the
Temple of Doom
See My, What a Busy Week! Academy Theater.
Inherent Vice is two-and-a-half-hours long, and for some, that'll feel like a long time to be confused. For Inherent Vice's dubious hero, Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix), that feels like a long time to be sober. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
It's Gonna Blow!!!
A documentary covering the late '80s/early '90s music scene in San Diego. Hollywood Theatre.
KBOO at the Clinton
Films presented by local radio station KBOO. This time: The Throwaways, "a personal exploration of the devastating impact of police brutality and mass incarceration on the black community." Co-director Bhawin Suchak in attendance for a post-film panel discussion. More at cstpdx.com. Clinton Street Theater.
Keep On Keepin' On
Jazz has no shortage of tragic tales of abbreviated lives: Bird's heroin addiction, John Coltrane's liver cancer, Billie Holiday's woe-filled history of drink, drugs, and abusive men. What a treat, then, to examine Clark Terry's lengthy, inspiring life. Terry's almost 94 now, and if his biography is largely devoid of the dark, lurid details that typically fuel music documentaries, Keep on Keepin' On focuses on the joy and passion that imbues Terry's life and music. It's richer for it. Screening presented by the Media Institute for Social Change. NED LANNAMANN Academy Theater.
We've reached the point where they don't bother showing Johnny Depp movies to critics. Various Theaters.
A pulpy rush that's shot to mirror the nocturnal, grainy world of freelancers who monitor the police scanner and speed to crime scenes to be the first one with sensational video. Unblinking and gaunt, Jake Gyllenhaal plays a fascinating misfit who discovers his strengths in this new, macabre calling. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
Portland and Los Angeles:
Cities in Cinema
Writer, podcaster, and essayist Colin Marshall hosts a screening of his documentary exploring Portland and Los Angeles through their use as locations in feature film production. Hollywood Theatre.
The Portland Oregon Women's Film Fest (POWFest) joins In Other Words Feminist Community Center to present Lunafest, "a traveling film festival of award-winning short films by, for and about women." More at cstpdx.com. Clinton Street Theater.
Spike Lee's audacious 1988 follow up to She's Gotta Have It is a genre-bending musical/comedy/drama about elitism and class struggle at a predominantly black college, starring Laurence Fishburne and Giancarlo Esposito. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
Speak up at your peril: This sentiment punctuates Ava DuVernay's Selma, which takes on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches led by Martin Luther King, Jr., James Bevel, Hosea Williams, and John Lewis. DuVernay's willingness to engage with this particularly American history of violence sets Selma apart—portraying a movement on film is an impossible task, but if DuVernay has succeeded, it's in the way Selma forces a kind of reckoning for its viewer. MEGAN BURBANK Various Theaters.
She's Beautiful When
See review this issue. Living Room Theaters.
An animated fairy tale musical from producer George Lucas. Not screened for critics. Various Theaters.
Daffi (Nelly Tagar) and Zohar (Dana Ivgy) are like Israeli versions of Broad City's Abbi and Ilana, except without the weed but with (surprisingly) more opportunities to get laid. Zero Motivation isn't Broad City funny, but it's a lot funnier than one would expect of a film that takes place in a Middle Eastern desert army base. When you ignore the drab locale and green jumpsuits, Zero Motivation is really just a story about best girlfriends trying to figure out what they want from life and from each other. ELINOR JONES Living Room Theaters.