Bridge of Spies
Spielberg's first film since 2012's Lincoln is an exceptional job of work—a deliberately old-fashioned hybrid of courtroom drama and Cold War skullduggery that's so expertly put together that you may not realize the beauty of its construction until after the fact. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
With the exception of that time she played an assassin in Hanna, Saoirse Ronan is often confined to roles unworthy of someone who can actually act (see: The Lovely Bones). So it's exciting to see her carry a well-constructed film once again with Brooklyn, an understated study of a young Irish woman caught between her ancestral home in Ireland and 1950s New York. MEGAN BURBANK Various Theaters.
"Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown." Clinton Street Theater.
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
Christmas from Home
A recreation of "a live Christmas radio show broadcast from Portland, Oregon during WWII complete with a band, sketches, singers, commercials and period sound effects." Clinton Street Theater.
Creed is the latest entry in the Rocky franchise, though it's the first that doesn't include a writing credit from Sylvester Stallone. It probably took a lot of nerve for the star to allow relative newcomer Ryan Coogler (who gave us 2013's excellent Fruitvale Station) to take the directorial reins—but the payoff is oh-so-worth it. Creed is not only a loving homage to Rocky, it builds upon the legend while maintaining the original film's heart and purity. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
"It seems clear that his awareness of what we call 'reality' is radically underdeveloped." Academy Theater.
There's an unnerving stillness to director Rick Alverson's work. It's a quality akin to David Lynch's most dreamlike films, where even the most mundane scenes have an air of creeping dread. In Alverson's Entertainment, that discomfort lingers in the otherwise humdrum day-to-day existence of a struggling, visibly haunted stand-up (Gregg Turkington). We follow along as Turkington's nameless comedian plies his trade at night, then spends his days baking in the Southern sun as he goes on guided tours or spends time with his strange cousin (John C. Reilly). Punctuating his days are phone calls to his estranged daughter—calls that go unanswered, and calls that grow more desperate. ROBERT HAM Hollywood Theatre, On Demand.
The Good Dinosaur
A boy-and-his-dog story where the boy is a talking dinosaur and the dog is a little grunting caveman, The Good Dinosaur is one of Pixar's best. It's just about guaranteed to make you laugh and also probably cry, and it's gorgeous to look at, and it features a cowboy Tyrannosaurus rex that has Sam Elliott's voice, which isn't a thing that anyone of us even knew we wanted, but now, clearly, is the apex of human artistic achievement. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
In Grandma, teenager Sage (Julia Garner) faces the all-too-common problem of having to come up with a fuck-ton of money for an abortion, like yesterday. Enter her cantankerous SoCal queer poet grandma (Lily Tomlin). She's not particularly equipped to help, but she tries anyway, in what's half-madcap quest, half-straight-up depressing reality. At times, writer/director Paul Weitz's dialogue is thin, and his world not quite as solid as it should be. But then Lily Tomlin says something like, "Where can you get a reasonably priced abortion?" with the perfect grousing tone, and you realize you're watching a movie—finally!—about a teenager who has an abortion and turns out fine, and it couldn't seem more honest. MEGAN BURBANK Various Theaters.
Heart of a Dog
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
The Hunger Games:
Turns out Catching Fire was the Hunger Games' Empire Strikes Back—everything that's come after it is just slightly more mediocre. MEGAN BURBANK Various Theaters.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
The 1978 one, with Leonard Nimoy and Donald Sutherland! SKREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE Hollywood Theatre.
See Film, this issue. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
KBOO at the Clinton
Films presented by local radio station KBOO. This time: 1968's Burt Lancaster flick The Swimmer. More at cstpdx.com. Clinton Street Theater.
A Christmas horror flick starring Adam Scott and directed by Michael Dougherty (Trick 'r Treat). Not screened for critics; review forthcoming. Various Theaters.
Kung Fu Theater
A rare 35mm print of Prodigal Son, widely considered to be Sammo Hung's masterpiece, starring himself as some sort of weird kung fu Yoda. People talk a lot about Donnie Yen and Jackie Chan, but holy shit if you aren't up on what Sammo Hung could do, you need to educate yourself. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
Love the Coopers
Maybe it's just because it's stuffed with likeable actors (Diane Keaton, Marisa Tomei, John Goodman, Alan Arkin), but Love the Coopers is, at the very least, a whole lot better than most terrible holiday movies with the word "love" in the title. Various Theaters.
March of the Wooden Soldiers
A 35mm print of the original black-and-white Laurel & Hardy comedy. Hollywood Theatre.
The Martyrdom of Old Saint Nick
A screening of a "Christmas musical horror-comedy" short from directors Joshua Winegarner and Brett Warnock, featuring Santa and Krampus facing off against each other. Filmmakers in attendance. Clinton Street Theater.
"When Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse!" Laurelhurst Theater.
The Night Before
Perhaps the only Christmas movie that offers both a whole lot of dick pics and the sad, lonely sense of desperation that defines the holidays. It also features Seth Rogen throwing up all over a midnight mass. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
You might have already heard about Pan from the criticism of the casting of Rooney Mara, a very white woman, in the role of Indian princess Tiger Lily. So, that's one issue. There are more. The cool parts of Pan are way too scary for little kids, the kid-friendly parts are boring, and it's depressing that we as a society are not better than this right now. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
See Film, this issue. Academy Theater.
Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict
When you're born into enough wealth that you're given leave from worrying about basics like eating and having a roof—and you can move to Europe because it seems like a happening place—it behooves you to put yourself to use. Peggy Guggenheim's is a polarizing example of such a life: Born into one of America's most famous wealthy families, she took her offbeat character to Europe and busied herself with a bohemian life that included bedding many famous artists and writers as well as buying up the so-called "degenerate art" that stuck in the Nazis' craw. Her lifelong collection is one of the world's most impressive, and while one can snipe about the accusations that she relied too much on the advice of men like Marcel Duchamp in lieu of having her own tastes, that's a conversation we'd be far less likely to have had she been a man. Lisa Immordino Vreeland's documentary is a cursory overview, more fit as a compact introduction than an intellectual plunge, but one has to begin somewhere. MARJORIE SKINNER Living Room Theaters.
Portland German Film Festival
A screening of the first ever science-fiction film released in East Germany, The Silent Star, based on Stanislaw Lem's The Astronauts. Clinton Street Theater.
Room is about a boy who is born in the garden shed where his mother, "Ma" (Brie Larson), has been kept captive for seven years, ever since she was abducted at age 17. Five-year-old Jack (Jacob Tremblay) has never seen the world outside of the shed—he doesn't even know such a world exists—and when Ma decides Jack is finally old enough to help carry out an escape attempt, the plan she concocts is dangerous and thrilling. But there's much more to this story: Room is based on the 2010 novel of the same name by Irish Canadian author Emma Donoghue. I read the book in one sitting—in a paroxysm of anxiety and emotional investment that kept me awake until 3 am—and came away impressed by its thoughtful, unexpected treatment of incredibly disturbing subject matter. The film succeeds by the same token. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
Secret in Their Eyes
This drab procedural compares unfavorably with most of today's prestige television; it's remarkable only for the self-importance that pervades every frame. And because a bunch of Oscar winners (Nicole Kidman, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Julia Roberts) wandered onto set—I hope they all found their way home safe. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
What's the opposite of evaporate? Whatever it is, that's what Sicario does. When so many movies and TV shows disappear from memory as soon as you're finished watching, Sicario lingers. It clots. Denis Villeneuve's new drug thriller is phenomenal. Its story is both personal and political, a scathing portrait of the drug war, as well as an elemental allegory in which moral dilemmas are depicted by characters crashing violently into each other. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
Singin' in the Rain
Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds in a movie your grandmother loves. Maybe you should take her! Maybe you should try not to be a disappointment for once in your life! Fifth Avenue Cinema.
The Hollywood's music-based monthly series presents Morphine: Journey of Dreams, a documentary about the '90s rock band. Hollywood Theatre.
I was a little anxious about seeing the new James Bond movie: The reviews have been significantly more mixed than they were for 2012's Skyfall, and once that godawful Sam Smith song hit the internet, I lost a big chunk of hope. I shouldn't have worried. For a Bond enthusiast, Spectre is a feast. Overstuffed by half an hour and packed wall-to-wall with juicy action sequences, it's exactly the sort of over-the-top, ludicrous spectacle that seasoned 007 fans have come to cherish. I can understand why it's not getting the buzz that Skyfall did—to be honest, the movie's a bit of a mess. But it's also a supervillain's-lair-tucked-away-in-a-volcano-crater's worth of fun. Ignore the reviews, Bond lovers: You'll enjoy the new one just fine. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, and Brian d'Arcy James play the Boston Globe's "spotlight" team of investigative journalists who were tasked with looking into child molestation charges leveled at Boston's beloved Catholic Archdiocese. Translating a highly detailed true story to film could sound like a staged reading of a Wikipedia page, or worse, trivialize the victims' experiences—and Spotlight walks dangerously close to this precipice. However, other than a few hammy moments, this film somehow manages to pull it off. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
Bryan Cranston plays screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who was blacklisted for being a communist in the 1950s. Unsurprisingly, Cranston is good, and Trumbo's story is undoubtedly interesting—but the makers of Trumbo seem to think that good writing is magic rather than hard work. Look at this weaver of story, this spinner of yarn, making silver-screen pixie dust with every clickity-clack of his typewriter! NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre.
A Very Murray Christmas
See My, What a Busy Week! Dig a Pony.
This re-imagining of Mary Shelley's classic is a mash-up monster. Victor Frankenstein steals viscera from Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy, Martin Scorsese's Hugo, old-school Hammer Horror films, Todd McFarlane's action figures, and countless other bits of genre detritus. All of that sounds like it could be a good time—like hanging out with a mythical hybrid, like a lioncowpanzee, an adorable mooing primate with a flowing golden mane. But, in reality, watching Victor Frankenstein is more like chilling with a lioncowpanzee that was stitched together by Dr. Frankenstein—a cross-eyed beast that's much more likely to be masturbating while cramming its four stomachs full of zebra carcass. COURTNEY FERGUSON Various Theaters.
When Miracle Meets Math
A Taiwanese romcom presented by the International Film Exchange of Oregon. More at ifeoo.org. Hollywood Theatre.
Alice Rohrwacher's Cannes-approved drama about a family of beekeepers in Tuscany. Fox Tower 10.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, December 4-Thursday, December 10, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.