See My, What a Busy Week! Laurelhurst Theater.
From a distance, it's hard to tell how much celebrity suffering is theater. Asif Kapadia's shattering documentary Amy certainly qualifies as theater in its own right, piecing together great amounts of archival, never-before-seen video footage of late musician Amy Winehouse with dramatic effectiveness. MARJORIE SKINNER Cinema 21, Hollywood Theatre.
Perhaps sensing their audience was growing weary and overwhelmed with Marvel's ever-expanding universe, Ant-Man's creators realized it was time for a smaller, character-driven film. Paul Rudd may not be anyone's definition of a hero, but he's great at playing characters the audience can root for. And with Michael Douglas supplying the dramatic backbone, along with a strong comedic supporting cast, Ant-Man has provided Marvel with something they haven't really pulled off since the first Iron Man—a story you actually care about. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
The Art of Reinvention: Paul Thomas Anderson & His Influences
All seven of Paul Thomas Anderson's features, paired with 14 films by directors that influenced him, either explicitly or indirectly. The series illuminates Anderson on all sides, providing some much-welcome context to some of his more inscrutable pieces. The devastating bleakness that characterizes his work is threaded throughout, of course, but we're reminded of the long, sustained passages of giddy hilarity in them, too. Taken together, his muses—Jason Robards, Philip Seymour Hoffman, John C. Reilly, Robert Ridgely—evolve into cornerstones. His sometimes punishing plot points reveal a consistent ethos. And his abundant passion for film, apparent in every frame, can't help but inspire, making this series richly rewarding from beginning to end. See "Motorcycles and Milkshakes," Film, July 22. NED LANNAMANN NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
The Hollywood's film series where audiences check off a bingo card full of wonderful B-movie cliches. This month's entry: Martial Law, one of the better (so far as that goes) Cynthia Rothrock vehicles, co-starring Chad McQueen as her partner on the LAPD and David Carradine as a kung-fu criminal. Hollywood Theatre.
First you have to get over the weirdness of watching porn in a movie theater with a bunch of strangers. Then you have to move past the idea that all porn involves ladies with giant boobs uttering stilted dialogue while being penetrated by enormous dicks. But if you can get over those two things, then maybe CineKink is for you. The New York-based kink-and-sexuality film fest is chockfull of hardcore flicks made not for the furtive-trenchcoat crowd, but for people who want to be loud and proud about diverse types of sex. SARAH MIRK Clinton Street Theater.
It's not as if the themes explored in Ex Machina are new—from Asimov to Blade Runner, we've pondered them before—but they're handled here with a depth and intelligence that gives them jarring impact. ERIK HENRIKSEN Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
"Everything was fine with our system until the power grid was shut off by dickless here." Academy Theater.
God of Gamblers
A ridiculous mash-up of every Hong Kong cinema cliché imaginable, starring Chow Yun-fat and Andy Lau. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
I Am Chris Farley
See review this issue. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Are you the type of barren, childless adult who feels weird going to Pixar movies by yourself? Well... maybe you should. BUT! I strongly advise you to put those feelings aside (or rent a kid from your neighbors or the Duggar family) and see Inside Out, Pixar's latest kids movie that's actually for adults. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
A Lego Brickumentary
Remember when The Lego Movie was about to come out and everybody was like "Ugh, it's just going to be a shitty ad for toys," but then it turned out it was hilarious and delightful and amazing? Well, now there's a documentary about Legos, and guess what: it's just a shitty ad for toys. Obnoxiously narrated by Jason Bateman (who shamelessly reads copy like "the genius of the Lego system..."), A Lego Brickumentary fawns over the massive Danish company and its products while visiting Lego conventions (where women are so uncommon they're referred to as "one-by-fives"—the same term used for a rare Lego piece), pandering to "AFOL"s ("adult fans of Lego"), talking to artists who sculpt with the toy (one spends "over six figures annually" on bricks), and fitting in sound bites from the likes of Trey Parker, Ed Sheeran, and Dwight Howard. This rambling infomercial eventually spends a few minutes talking about stuff that's actually interesting—like how how autism therapists and NASA scientists have found inventive uses for the toy—but by then it's too little, too late. Everything is not awesome. ERIK HENRIKSEN Living Room Theaters.
Mad Max: Fury Road
A brutal, beautiful, two-hour action overdose injected with a welcome feminist bent. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Magic Mike XXL
Sequels need to trade off the success of the first film, so they need a similar story. But they also have to at least pretend to offer something new. In dance, a cappella, or cheerleading movies, this usually means rounding up everybody from the first movie, then sending them to a national competition of some sort—one last hurrah, but for real this time. So I wasn't very enthusiastic when I heard we were getting a sequel to 2012's excellent Magic Mike. Do we need to see this same cast of beefheads grind on each other some more, I wondered, but with higher stakes? Does anyone need more of this? Answers: Yes and OMG YES. FUCK YES. SO MUCH. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
Hey, you do know Inside Out is currently playing, right? And that, unlike some children's movies we could mention, it isn't cynical garbage? Various Theaters.
Mission: Impossible— Rogue Nation
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
As Sherlock Holmes, Ian McKellen is magnificent. It's often argued that cinematic spectacle can't be truly experienced unless it's projected onto a 50-foot screen, but I'd argue that it is also worth employing that increased scale to watch the planes of McKellen's face shift, almost imperceptibly, from mood to mood. BEN COLEMAN Various Theaters.
Someone steals a Buddhist statue from Tony Jaa's village. Tony Jaa travels to Bangkok to get it back. On the way he knees the shit out of anyone who gets in his way. You will witness about 150 stuntmen getting their underpaid shit wrecked with no wires or CGI assistance for about 90 minutes. It will be glorious. BOBBY ROBERTS Fifth Avenue Cinema.
A free public screening of new short films. More at nwfilm.org. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Have you guys ever had those nights where you stick around some probably horrible people because you're already kinda drunk and there might be fun drugs coming and if nothing else this could make for a good story? Now imagine doing that in your mid-30s, at your kid's first playdate in a new town. Welcome to The Overnight. ELINOR JONES Laurelhurst Theater.
If every teen movie ever made was thrown into a blender and pulverized into a thick white paste, and then that paste was reconstituted back into a movie, that movie would be Paper Towns. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence
In Swedish director Roy Andersson's best work, he eschews traditional plots almost completely, instead presenting a broken-up series of small moments—mini melodramas or tiny tragicomedies that play out in front of a static camera and mix the sensibilities of Ingmar Bergman and Jacques Tati. Andersson's scenes are haunting—but more importantly, they're often hilarious, with inventive juxtapositions (a man getting slowly fucked while he describes his bank losing nearly all of his retirement savings), lots of deadpan, and surreal turns. A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence is his latest. ROBERT HAM Living Room Theaters.
The basic conceit of Pixels, lifted from an enjoyable 2010 short film by Patrick Jean, is that aliens are attacking the planet using tactics learned from old-school arcade games. Enter Adam Sandler, Kevin James (as the president), Peter Dinklage, and Josh Gad—a cliché '80s kid misfit squad, now all grown up and ready to save the world. It's classic childhood wish fulfillment: Someday they're gonna be sorry. Or, even sadder: Someday the thing I loved as a kid will be important again. (Hey, when's the next Avengers movie out?) Creativity, diversity, eccentricity, passion—all the things that make actual nerd communities genuinely interesting—are missing; instead, our Nerd Squad is another gang of schlubby, entitled white dudes with strong opinions about women's bodies (sigh). ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
There are a lot of good intentions muddled up in Promised Land, and a lot of talent, too—the frustrating, almost-great film is directed by Gus Van Sant, with a story by Dave Eggers and a screenplay from costars John Krasinski and Matt Damon. Promised Land is a film with an agenda disguised as a film with no agenda, and if that sort of thing doesn't make you a little bit mad, well... then you should go see it! 'Cause otherwise it's really good. ALISON HALLETT Clinton Street Theater.
One of the least watchable movies I've seen in years. It doesn't even work to judge it solely on the merits of its special effects, as it's impossible to illustrate catastrophe without humanity, and the California of San Andreas feels about as lifelike as Sim City (although I suppose one could argue that's a pretty accurate portrayal of Los Angeles). MORGAN TROPER Various Theaters.
Does the world really need another movie about a gritty white boxer from the wrong side of the tracks, who gets as good as he gives, whose struggles in the ring mirror his struggles in his personal life? Absolutely not. And yet the sheer, unblinking earnestness with which Southpaw tries to convince you that it does almost works. It sticks to the formula so closely that it becomes a mantra, an incantation. VINCE MANCINI Various Theaters.
The Stanford Prison Experiment
See review this issue. Cinema 21, On Demand.
Streets of Fire
Walter Hill's action/romance/musical from 1984. Hollywood Theatre.
Good movies can sometimes give off a hum—a feeling that the energy and chemistry on screen can't be constrained by the edges of the frame. Tangerine fits this description and then some, creating a kinetic rush with enough spillover juice to light up LA for a year. While chockfull of innovations both welcome (a story about transgender characters, played by transgender performers) and potentially eye-strainingly worrisome (the movie was shot entirely on tricked-out, stabilized iPhones), the main takeaway is just how alive it seems. ANDREW WRIGHT Cinema 21.
A teddy bear who says "motherfucker" is only funny once. MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters.
The Third Man
Everyone thinks of The Third Man as an Orson Welles movie—despite the fact Welles neither wrote nor directed it, and despite the fact he doesn't even show up until the film's already been rolling for a long stretch. In true Welles style, once he does show up, he makes everyone else seem superfluous. As Harry Lime—an ostensibly dead expat in a Vienna that's rubbled and scarred from WWII—Welles is both sinister and mischievous, charming and menacing; all he needs to do to catch everyone off-guard, be they onscreen or in the theater, is give his brow an impish twist or take a quick step forward. ERIK HENRIKSEN Laurelhurst Theater.
Top Down: Rooftop Cinema
The NW Film Center's rooftop screening series, held on top of the Hotel deLuxe's parking garage. Screening Thurs July 30 is The 10th Victim; screening Thurs Aug 6 is Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. More at nwfilm.org. Hotel deLuxe.
Amy Schumer fans should take heart: I'm with you. As far as I'm concerned, she's a national treasure, so it's weird to see her sharp-edged humor dulled by a movie that essentially hews to a classic boy-meets-girl-plus-problem format. MEGAN BURBANK Various Theaters.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.