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.
"Make love? But no one's done that for hundreds of centuries!" Academy Theater.
Belle and Sebastian
Kids (and adults who can tolerate 'em) will love this movie about a French boy and a feral dog he befriends in the Nazi-occupied French Alps. It's gorgeous and sweet and full of adventure... even though it's hard to stop worrying whether the dog is going to make it out of the film alive. The titular twee band makes no appearance. COURTNEY FERGUSON NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
"The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping." Hollywood Theatre, OMSI Empirical Theater.
A documentary about civil rights activist Bayard Rustin. Clinton Street Theater.
The Sex Workers Film Series presents a documentary on the popular form of sex work that didn't even exist until the late 20th century. Clinton Street Theater.
Can't Stand Losing You
Andy Summers had already had a full career in music by the time he joined the Police in 1977, and this weirdly inconclusive documentary sketches his life with photos, footage, and narration from his autobiography. The Police were great musicians, and they were destructive, combative, and fronted by an egomaniac—yet we’re offered little insight into Summers’ state of mind at the height of their success, a period where he seems to have mostly kept himself numb. There’s a similarly indifferent treatment of the Police’s (highly lucrative) reunion of 2007-2008, and Can’t Stand Losing You draws to a close with a sense of frustration at all that hasn’t been said. NED LANNAMANN Fox Tower 10.
Neill Blomkamp has become our generation's definitive sci-fi auteur. The problem is he can't tell a story to save his fucking life. BEN COLEMAN Various Theaters.
A thriller set in Stalin's Soviet Union and based on the book by Tom Rob Smith. Like Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, it was not screened for critics. Various Theaters.
Church of Film
The screening series presents Macunaima, Joaquim Pedro de Andrade's social satire that is considered "one of the monumental classics of the Brazilian Cinema Novo." Hollywood Theatre.
A biopic about Afshin Ghaffarian, who started a dance company in Iran. Not screened for critics. Living Room Theaters.
Essential Gus Van Sant
(& His Influences)
A series of Van Sant's most notable works, screening alongside the films that inspired him. For more, see next week's Mercury. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
An Evening With Kelly Sears
A series of politically and culturally charged animated experimental shorts from Kelly Sears. Filmmaker in attendance. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.
Following up some of the best pop movies in recent history, the seventh—seventh!—installment in the genre-hopping series finds the family paying tribute to Paul Walker while also embarking on 007-style super-spy adventure. Under director James Wan, Furious 7 amps up the insanely over-the-top spectacle, crams in all the loveable characters (most notably Tyrese Gibson's Roman and Dwayne Johnson's Hobbs), and earnestly goes for the series' hallmarks, both beloved (Vin Diesel grumbling about family) and subtle (progressive multiculturalism). This is a big cartoony jumble of action and melodrama, but it also zeros in on the movies' heartfelt core. Furious 7 isn't the first Fast & Furious movie that had me clapping and laughing throughout; it is the first that ended with me realizing I had a lump in my throat. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
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 Laurelhurst Theater, Living Room Theaters.
Stephen Frears' 2000 film, based on the novel by Nick Hornby. Screens in 35mm. Kiggins Theatre.
Horrorism for Beginners, Beginners for Horrorism
Berlin-based filmmakers OJOBOCA present short, phantasmagoric films and projector performances. More at cinemaproject.org. Clinton Street Theater.
Horror movies can often be such a perfunctory, slapdash affair—make offscreen noise, throw cat at actress, repeat—that fans are understandably quick to crank the hype to 11 whenever something promising surfaces. When a film comes along that actually delivers, it's hard to hold back the hosannas. It Follows is one of those rare scary machines where everything just clicks together, with a ferociously single-minded rightness that keeps the nerves in a state of high, perpetual thrum. ANDREW WRIGHT Cinema 21, Hollywood Theatre, VOD.
Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter
Brothers David and Nathan Zellner had already begun work on fictionalizing the "true" tale of a young Tokyo woman thought to have died looking for the suitcase of money that was buried in the Coen brothers' Fargo when they found out that wasn't quite the case. Takako Konishi had died of exposure in the snow, but she did so intentionally, as was revealed in a suicide note she penned to her parents. Nonetheless, the Zellners pushed on with their project, modeled after the original version of the Konishi legend. The premise isn't the only unbelievably bizarre moment in Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter, but the moments in the film that shine brightest are those in which the most liberties have been taken. MARJORIE SKINNER Hollywood Theatre, Living Room Theaters.
See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
The Longest Ride
The boy places a cowboy hat on the girl's head. Hand in hand, they regard the audience. Their eyes are hungry. And so you pour everything you have into The Longest Ride. You fill it with your hopes and dreams, your failures and successes. Your eighth grade dance. Your plans to go to the gym once in a goddamn while. Those books you used to like, about the horse—Flicka. She was a nice horse. The boy and girl ripen before your eyes. They grow bigger and bigger, swelling with everything you have to offer, and soon they're big enough—but to your horror you can't stop. Their skin is starting to stretch and tear. ALISON HALLETT (We think this is Alison's way of telling us she didn't like the new Nicholas Sparks movie. Maybe rewatch The Notebook instead?—Eds.) Various Theaters.
Man from Reno
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.
A Disney documentary about monkeys. Not to be confused with Monkey Trouble, 12 Monkeys, Monkey Shines, or Monkey Fuckers. Various Theaters.
Monsters: Dark Continent
An action-oriented sequel to Gareth Edwards' indie film about octo-squid creatures from outer space. Not screened for critics. Living Room Theaters, VOD.
The Nicholas Brothers:
Hot in Harlem
A series of 16mm films from the collection of archivist Dennis Nyback, featuring Cotton Club stars Harold and Fayard Nicholas, plus appearances from Cab Calloway, Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge, and more. Hollywood Theatre.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
The studio didn't screen Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2: The Blartening for critics. This was undoubtedly a smart move—maybe, in fact, the smartest thing about Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2: Blart 2 da Hood, which reprises Kevin James' titular role from the surprisingly successful 2009 comedy. I did see Paul Blart: Mall Cop Episode 1—The Phantom Blartace, and while my memory of it is dim, here's what I can piece together: Fat guy rides Segway, falls on ass; repeat for 87 minutes. I am confident in assuring you that you'll find no truer description of Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2: Electric Blartabloo. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
A monthly series "showing vintage and contemporary films that are obscure, neglected, and from the fringe." This month: A 35mm print of Al Adamson's 1969 drug-running saga The Female Bunch. Preceded by 35mm exploitation trailers. Hollywood Theatre.
In 1978, when ABC heard about CBS putting together a Star Wars special for Christmas, they told Glen A. Larson, "You're already ripping off Star Wars, right? Get us a Battlestar Galactica version of that." So he cooked up Battlestar Galactica: War of the Gods, a weird two-part story about a ship of lights, disco Cylons, and Patrick MacNee. Re-run Theater will present it with vintage '70s TV commercials. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
Rock Out With Your VCR Out
Seattle's Scarecrow Video screens some ridiculous shit from their vast collection of vintage VHS tapes. Hollywood Theatre.
Scott Crawford's doc about the rise of the underground rock scene in Washington D.C. wisely narrows its focus to a mere decade-long stretch when its biggest players and advocates (Ian MacKaye, Dave Grohl, and Jenny Toomey among them) were embracing and codifying punk's DIY aesthetic. Even with the director's questionable choices—including himself as a talking head, relying on an overabundance of computer graphic textures—he manages to capture the inspiring energy of that period through copious amounts of performance footage and interviews with folks who played both small and huge roles in keeping the creative fires lit. ROBERT HAM Clinton Street Theater.
Sci-Fi Film Fest
A collection of 14 films playing at OMSI's recently renovated Empirical Theater. Selections include Children of Men, Blade Runner, Alien, Galaxy Quest, Forbidden Planet, and more. See "Future Shock," Film, Wednesday, April 8. OMSI Empirical Theater.
The Secret Life of Plants
Mississippi Records presents a screening of the tripped-out documentary you've probably heard millions of times before (thanks to the Stevie Wonder soundtrack) but never actually seen. Hollywood Theatre.
Send in the Clowns
The Media Institute for Social Change presents a documentary about Clowns Without Borders, including a pre-film Q&A with Tim Cunningham, director of the organization. TRIGGER WARNING: "There will be clowns at the event." Academy Theater.
Sex Workers Film Series
A series offering "the best films by and about sex workers." This month: A Kiss for Gabriela. More at cstpdx.com. Clinton Street Theater.
The 1936 musical, presented by Portland Opera. Hollywood Theatre.
Song from the Forest
A documentary about an American man who followed a song into the African jungle and stayed, eventually becoming an important member of a BaAka village. Clinton Street Theater.
Total Recall (1990)
"The Martians love Kuato. They think he's fuckin' George Washington." Laurelhurst Theater.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
What We Do in the Shadows
A mockumentary (wait, keep reading) about vampire roommates (just a little further) from the Flight of the Conchords brain trust. Blissfully, consistently silly throughout (Jemaine Clement's virile Coppola posturing gets funnier with every frame) with some knowingly wobbly effects by Peter Jackson's gang that only enhance the giggles. ANDREW WRIGHT Cinema 21.
While We're Young
Noah Baumbach takes what could have simply been Look at These Fucking Hipsters: The Motion Picture and transforms it into a hilariously sharp look at the generation gap. The movie distributes its scorn equally and with a rueful good humor. It gets as good as it gives. ANDREW WRIGHT Cinema 21, Hollywood Theatre.
See review this issue. Living Room Theaters.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, April 17-Thursday, April 23, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.