500 Days of Summer
In the 500 days this film spans, a familiar arc is described: Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschanel) date; Tom gets too attached; Summer breaks it off; and Tom lapses into the sort of melodramatic, self-pitying behavior that seems utterly ridiculous when engaged in by anyone but oneself. But wait. Problem: Breakups are depressing, and Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel are far too adorable to squander on melodrama. So first-time director Marc Webb skirts the bummer factor by shuffling his story's chronology, splicing together out-of-order scenes from their relationship to chart its dissolution. Other gags further cushion the film's potential emotional impact: There's split-screen, a totally superfluous narrator, a musical number, and, as always, Deschanel's inability to register emotional depth—all of which collude to render a gut-ripping breakup as mild indie entertainment. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
Beaches of Agnès
Agnès Varda's 1008 auto-biopic. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Describing a movie as "quirky" more or less amounts to a critical bitch-slap these days, right up there with calling something "precious" or "twee." But it wasn't always so, and with the fantastic The Brothers Bloom, writer/director Rian Johnson (who previously helmed 2005's creepily original noir Brick) revisits an earlier cinematic era—one in which eccentricity is interesting and quirkiness has yet to become synonymous with Natalie Portman in a helmet. ALISON HALLETT Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
The Piano Has Been
Rare concert footage of Tom Waits from 1976-1981. Clinton Street Theater.
See review. Fox Tower 10.
Here's a friendly word of advice: Adjust your expectations for Funny People. If you're a Judd Apatow fan, and you loved Freaks and Geeks and The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, and you think, as I do, that Apatow is consistently involved with some of the funniest and least-insulting comedies being made, then you're probably pretty excited for his newest—especially given the film's standup comedy bent and an impressive list of participating actors. Well, dial it down a bit. Funny People is a long and not unentertaining movie that splices together elements of every Apatow project to date—but it's less the pinnacle of his filmmaking than a synthesis of every theme he's spent his career exploring. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
It's probably not surprising to learn that G-Force, the new 3D half-animated/half-real-life kids movie from Disney and über-producer Jerry Bruckheimer, isn't very good. It's noisy, crude, and nonsensical—none of which is bad in and of itself, but it's also insultingly stupid and not nearly funny enough. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Following the success of Transformers, the '80s action figures get the big screen treatment. G.I. Joe wasn't screened for critics, perhaps because early buzz around the film contained phrases like "worst movie of the decade." So now you know. And knowing is half the battle! Various Theaters.
Gleaners and I
Agnès Varda's most well-known documentary (her classification "essay" is more apt), inspired by old paintings of the peasant "gleaners" who would sweep the fields, post-harvest, for free food, a practice still legal under French law. A tradition carried on in the present day by gypsies as well as fun-seekers, and extended into urban life in the form of scavenging the remains of markets and dumpster diving, Varda's full tour into this world reveals insights with social, environmental, self-reflective, and artistic relevance that are, as is characteristic of her work, ahead of her time. MARJORIE SKINNER Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Humpday is more focused and charming than most mumblecore films, taking the best qualities and leaving behind the characteristic sloppiness and over-privileged naiveté. The result is a breakthrough, and as we're led into the inner circle of the characters' earnest attempts to be communicative, positive, and open minded, it slowly dawns on you how mistreated we are by the studios' infliction of endless lashes of gender stereotype and homophobia, where 90-minute jokes are based on the supposed male aversion to talking about their feelings. MARJORIE SKINNER Fox Tower 10.
It's easy to say The Hurt Locker is gonna be one of the best movies of this year, because... well, it is. But that doesn't convey what a brutal, intense, challenging experience it is to watch Kathryn Bigelow's thriller about a bomb squad stationed in Baghdad in 2004, led by Staff Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner). You will feel fine going in to The Hurt Locker. You will walk out feeling like you lost a fistfight. ERIK HENRIKSEN Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing, City Center 12, Fox Tower 10.
See review. Cinema 21.
Julie & Julia
See review. Various Theaters.
Counter-intuitively set in a small Mexican town, Lake Tahoe is a slow, sensitive story about a teenager, Juan, and his brother. The film manages to be sad and quiet without being too boring, but there's no getting around that it's a study in feeling lost and depressed. MARJORIE SKINNER Living Room Theaters.
Night Double Feature
Boxxes' free movie night. This week's selections: Welcome to the Dollhouse and The Warriors. Boxxes.
A film in which a successful artist "befriends an elderly alcoholic genius painter who has turned his back not only on art, but on life." (Cue sad piano music.) Where else are you gonna find a film starring Ray Liotta, Samantha Mathis, and Ron Perlman? Hollywood Theatre.
The best way to see Duncan Jones' excellent Moon is to go in blank: no expectations, no preconceptions, and no suspicions. But here you are, still reading, so I guess you need some convincing. Fine. The basics: Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is stationed, alone, on the Moon. Nearing the end of his multi-year contract to man a largely automated mining facility, Sam works as a glorified handyman, wanders the base's empty hallways, watches videos of his wife and daughter back on Earth (Dominique McElligott and Kaya Scodelario), and talks with the base's kinda-sweet, kinda-creepy computer, GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey). Rockwell's Sam is a likeable, blue-collar guy with a lonely, shitty job, and in Moon's opening scenes, Jones gracefully captures the guy's weary isolation. You feel for Sam—which makes it all the more messed up when things, well, start to get all weird. ERIK HENRIKSEN Cinemagic, City Center 12, Fox Tower 10.
Yet another horror flick about yet another creepy kid. Various Theaters.
See review. Fox Tower 10.
A Perfect Getaway
See review. Various Theaters.
The Song of Sparrows
Karim (Reza Naji) is an impoverished, hapless grouch; on a visit to Tehran, he earns some spare cash using his motorbike as a taxi, and soon is able to provide his family with comforts. There's an overarching metaphor of captive animals being set free: An ostrich escapes from a farm, a sparrow is let loose out a window, a barrel of fish is deposited into a drainage ditch. I suppose it all has something to do with Karim, or with the plight of Iranian peasants in general, but really, your guess is as good as mine. As in director Majid Majidi's previous film, The Willow Tree, the lyricism frequently lapses into tedium, and the film's perpetually dissatisfied protagonist gradually wears down the viewer's sympathies. NED LANNAMANN Living Room Theaters.
NO, THIS IS NOT STEVEN SODERBERGH'S TRAFFIC. This is Jacques Tati's Trafic, from 1971, in which Tati "plays the designer of a futuristic camper van on a motor trip to transport it from Paris to Amsterdam." (Possibly while smuggling drugs maybe?) Hotel deLuxe