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. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
Arresting Power: Resisting Police Violence in Portland, Oregon
Making good use of rare (and expensive) archival footage from the Oregon Historical Society, local documentary Arresting Power is at its strongest when telling the origin story of Portland's police accountability movement—providing potent evidence that the marches and demands for change that have erupted post-Ferguson are part of a decades-long tradition started by our city's African American community. Many of those leaders also appear on camera, sharing their wisdom alongside testimonials from community members like Shirley Isadore, whose daughter Kendra James was killed by Portland police in 2003. It's a good primer for anyone who cares about accountability. But it's also too bad—in part because work on Arresting Power began well before today's unrest—that we don't also hear from some of the newer, younger leaders who've been stepping forward within the movement in recent months. DENIS C. THERIAULT Hollywood Theatre.
The Hollywood's series features B-movies, with the audience marking down clichés on a custom-made bingo card. This month: Hologram Man, starring ponytailed hardasses in bodysuits fighting crime... hologram-style. Hollywood Theatre.
There's no doubt that Alejandro González Iñárritu's latest is very clever about what it says. The question is if it has anything to say. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
One part charming, two parts tedious, and 10 parts stoned in the student center, Childhood Machine is an ecstatically low-budget bizarro tale about a mad inventor named Childhood Machine (actor/director/writer Christof Whiteman), whose experiments in a dirty basement involve sleep deprivation, a young woman who wants to eradicate memories, a man who envies the lives of squirrels, and a fatherless guy obsessed with John Goodman's portrayal of Dan Conner in the first season of Roseanne (actor/writer/director Sean Whiteman's first monologue on this subject is one of the film's highlights). There's much pontification, and lo-fi special effects abound. Despite some wince-inducing moments, it's hard not to love this dirty kid of a film at least a little bit—maybe more so if you watch it at 1 am with a joint. Filmmakers in attendance. MARJORIE SKINNER NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Church of Film
Church of Film presents a whole bunch of shorts and music videos focusing on "composer, chanteur, and provocateur extraordinaire" Serge Gainsbourg. North Star Ballroom.
A series showcasing "Latin American classic cinema from the golden era of film." This installment features Nosotros Los Pobres, the opening chapter in the El Toro trilogy from director Pedro Infante. Hollywood Theatre.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
"I can teach you to fight with the Green Destiny, but first you must learn to hold it in stillness." Also see A Touch of Zen. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
Shit, man, it's like the Lloyd Center Hot Topic up in here. Hollywood Theatre.
The DUFF is... not bad? When "Designated Ugly Fat Friend" Bianca (Mae Whitman) learns of her status as the "approachable" one in her group of hot friends, she goes on a voyage that hits all the teen movie clichés: She pulls a She's All That while getting Mean Girls-ed by mega-bitch Madison (Bella Thorne). She pines for a Joe-from-Say Anything. She gets ridiculed, à la Easy A and Carrie, and then there's some more She's All That before closing with a necessary Pretty in Pink. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
Salma Hayek, alone in her apartment, killing a whole grip of professional assassins sent courtesy of her mob boss ex. Not screened for critics. Hollywood Theatre.
Fifty Shades of Grey
Your classic boy-meets-girl, boy-spanks-girl, boy-disrespects-girl's-needs tale. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
A high-intrigue crime story based on a 1996 murder. (If you aren't familiar with the crime itself, I won't spoil it—in the movie's atmosphere of flat menace, it comes as a shock.) In adapting the story to the screen, however, director Bennett Miller (Moneyball) seems so determined to avoid salaciousness that he errs too far in the other direction. Miller's reserve is both commendable and frustrating, and the result is a chilly, distant film that observes its characters without explaining them. ALISON HALLETT Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
In horror movies, and sometimes in life, a girl alone at night is a victim. Shadows are ominous, noises are frightening. The night doesn't belong to her. Which is just part of why Ana Lily Amirpour's debut feature is so exhilarating. The Girl (Sheila Vand) is a taciturn, hijab-clad vampire in a tiny Iranian town called Bad City, gliding through the deserted streets like a not-so-friendly ghost. The night is her domain, though the men she encounters might assume otherwise. The Girl does what she wants, and usually what she wants is to drink somebody. ALISON HALLETT Cinema 21.
NOT A SEQUEL TO BOYHOOD. Céline Sciamma's coming-of-age film follows a teenage girl in Paris trying to escape an unbearable home situation. Clinton Street Theater.
God Told Me To
A digital restoration of Larry Cohen's 1976 exploitation flick. Hollywood Theatre.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the
Although the shortest film of the entire franchise, this Hobbit sure seems like the doziest. Coming from a filmmaker who is clearly weary of the Epic Elder Statesman crown, the results are a dramatically uneven, technically flabbergasting film that often feels more dutiful than inspired. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
Hot Tub Time Machine 2
In what fucked-up reality does Hot Tub Time Machine, a film singularly distinguished by the idiotic (or "hilarious," depending on the orientation of your baseball cap) premise that its principal characters traveled back in time in a hot tub, actually warrant a sequel? MORGAN TROPER Various Theaters.
The best mysteries are the unpredictable ones—and the unpredictable ones rely on quick-switches and surprise reveals, buried details and long-forgotten connections. So when I tell you that Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice has all of those things, and also that it flickers onscreen through a thick blur of marijuana smoke, it won't come as a surprise when I add that the movie makes hardly any goddamn sense. Maybe it does if you see it twice, or if you've read the Thomas Pynchon book it's based on, or if you—unlike me—possess enough foresight to sneak a joint into the theater. Or two, or three: 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 Cinema 21.
Films by Fellini, Antonioni, David Lean, and more, screened to coincide with the Portland Art Museum's "Italian Style: Fashion Since 1945" exhibit. See next week's Mercury for more. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
The phrase "Cinderella, but in space, and featuring Channing Tatum as a part-human, part-wolf with rocket boots" either appeals to you or it doesn't. So yeah: Jupiter Ascending will either appeal to you or it won't. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Kingsman: The Secret Service
You can tell a lot about someone by which James Bond is his or her favorite. Judging from Kingsman: The Secret Service, director Matthew Vaughn's favorite is Roger Moore. Moore's Bond films were glamorous, extravagant trash, and Kingsman is both a love letter to that goofy camp and a mild critique of the dour, serious Bond we've got now. Based on a comic by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, Kingsman is smashingly fun, finding common ground between today's comic-book action flicks and classic British espionage thrillers. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
The Lazarus Effect
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
The Maltese Falcon
1941. Bogart. 35mm. Go. Academy Theater.
Maps to the Stars
See review this issue. Living Room Theaters, VOD.
I can think of at least three reasons why I'm not supposed to like McFarland, USA: (1) It's one of those "white person saves the otherwise hopeless lives of disadvantaged young brown people" jams. (2) It's a Disney movie. (3) It stars Kevin Costner, the blandest motherfucker there is. And yet, not only did I enjoy McFarland, USA, I even felt a mysterious moistness in my eyes. MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters.
Richard Linklater's Boyhood was last year's big, ambitious cinematic experiment with time, but in its way, Mike Leigh's Mr. Turner is just as concerned with time's passage. Where Boyhood strode more or less triumphantly into the future, Mr. Turner is more interested in how time passes once you're finished growing up. Middle age drags on until one day you're old; old age drags on until one day you're dead. It's slow and inexorable and the people around you won't notice it's happening, until they do: Has he always looked so old? In the end, all that matters to painter J.M.W. Turner (Timothy Spall) is that pigment and canvas will survive him—and for better and for worse, they do. ALISON HALLETT Cinema 21.
My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
My Life Directed By Nicolas Winding Refn is, somewhat confusingly, a documentary about Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive, Bronson, Valhalla Rising) but directed by his wife, actress Liv Corfixen. The title alludes to Refn's occasionally imperious approach to domestic life, which represents about half the film, with the other half is essentially a behind-the-scenes featurette about his 2013 film Only God Forgives. While My Life requires an interest in Refn's methods in general and a familiarity with Only God Forgives in particular, it's more of a postmortem on an inarguably flawed film rather than a puff piece in defense of it. BEN COLEMAN VOD.
This 1944 film is a real treat for fans of Elizabeth Taylor, Mickey Rooney, and horse dick. Hollywood Theatre.
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
Song of the Sea
The latest animated film from Tomm Moore, co-director of 2009's excellent The Secret of Kells. Not screened for critics. Fox Tower 10.
Space Material/Immaterial Space
Experimental shorts from filmmaker Jeremy Moss. Clinton Street Theater.
The scariest horror film in years, Still Alice charts the symptoms, diagnosis, and degeneration of Alice (Julianne Moore), a linguistics professor at Columbia who, after finding herself forgetting words and getting lost on runs, is diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of Alzheimer's. I can't think of a better film to see if you want to cry five or six times and then live the rest of your life in a state of constant terror. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
John Carpenter's 1982 classic, starring a very hairy Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, and an exploding dog head. Hollywood Theatre.
A film set during the Islamist occupation of Mali, told from the ground-level perspective of those both suffering under and perpetuating the religious rule. Timbuktu is occasionally, harshly brutal, and the moments of sudden bloodshed are enough to coat the whole thing with fear—in other words, the film functions just as real-life occupation does. There's a timeless horror to the film, made all the more real next to the bright, heartbreaking sparks of life we see in the eyes of herdsman Kidane (Ibrahim Ahmed), his wife (Toulou Kiki), and their young daughter (Layla Walet Mohamed). ERIK HENRIKSEN Living Room Theaters.
A Touch of Zen
One of the first historical martial arts epics, A Touch of Zen came out in 1971 and went on to inspire many classics in the genre—including Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which is also screening this weekend. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, February 27-Thursday, March 5, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.