Andrew Haigh's latest is a great little movie, complex and compelling and brilliantly constructed. Had Charlotte Rampling refrained from offering her opinion on the Oscars boycott ("racist to white people"), we'd all be offering unqualified raves of her performance here. Since she did recently share her antediluvian two cents, here's a qualified rave: It's a tremendous performance from an actress who's apparently kind of an old racist? Tom Courtenay, too, gives a rumpled and lived-in performance as a man torn between the siren song of nostalgia and his real life. ALISON HALLETT Living Room Theaters.
4th Man Out
A closeted man comes out to his group of bros. Will his blue-collar squad embrace or reject him? Will the character-driven comedy on display succeed in spite of the boilerplate gay panic implied in the premise? And who says gay movies can't have big fat fart jokes, anyway? Clinton Street Theater.
In his screenplays for Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Adaptation, Charlie Kaufman demonstrated two things: that he's fond of exploring themes of identity, memory, romantic love, and self-loathing; and that his own un-spotless mind is a fevered, neurotic wonderland. Kaufman's latest, Anomalisa, isn't a departure from any of that. Its most obvious distinction—that it was filmed with lifelike puppets and stop-motion animation instead of live actors—is an ingenious and necessary component of the story, not an oddball aesthetic choice (or not just an oddball aesthetic choice, anyway). After the tragically under-seen Synecdoche, New York, this is only the second film that Kaufman has directed himself, and it has a similar heartrending poignance that resonates far longer than its comedic elements. ERIC D. SNIDER Cinema 21.
The Big Short
There's nothing subtle about The Big Short. Director Adam McKay (Anchorman) uses every trick in the Martin Scorsese handbook—freeze-frame, montage, fourth-wall-breaking narration—to tell the true story of a few investors who predicted the catastrophic financial crisis of 2008. Christian Bale, not exactly a low-key performer to begin with, is given Asperger's, a stutter, and a glass eye; Steve Carell's grieving money manager can't help but speak his mind; and Ryan Gosling is apparently the biggest sleaze in finance—an industry already oozing sleaze out of its finely tailored seams. These guys, among others, foresaw the burst of the housing bubble and invested against it—hoping to profit on Wall Street's unrepentant greed. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
Boy and the World
Don't be dissuaded by the title's proximity to a certain insufferable TV show. Boy and the World is a mostly silent, completely gorgeous animated feature from Brazilian director Alê Abreu about a little kid who goes on an occasionally-terrifying quest to find his father, who's left to find work in a nearby city. That sounds heartbreaking, and it is: I had to pause my screener during some of the worst child-in-peril moments. Still, this is worth it for the visuals alone—absurdly beautiful bursts of scribbled color that evoke some kind of high-low mash-up between Kandinsky, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and the animators of Doug. MEGAN BURBANK Academy Theater.
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 Cinema 21.
Carol is set in the 1950s, which was not a great time for gay people getting to live the lives they deserved. That makes it all the more remarkable that the film, based on the Patricia Highsmith novel The Price of Salt, doesn't punish its characters by dooming them to misery or early death, like most of the non-straight narratives Hollywood offers up. If creativity thrives within limits, Carol makes a pretty good case that love can, too—although it certainly shouldn't have to. ALISON HALLETT Hollywood Theatre.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
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's heart and purity. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Academy Theater.
The Finest Hours
One of the most infuriating laws of filmmaking is that a good story doesn't always turn into a good movie. The Finest Hours has a great story—the unbelievable rescue of the SS Pendleton's crew by the US Coast Guard during a brutal nor'easter—but it's sunk by unnecessary embroidery and an unpleasantly sappy script. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
From Bombay to Bollywood: 50 Years of Indian Cinema
NW Film, with the help of the Government of India, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and Portland's own DJ Anjali & the Incredible Kid, has put together a 10-film retrospective on the width and breadth of the Indian film experience. It ain't all singing and dancing at weddings, you guys. More at nwfilm.org. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
Harold and Maude
Look at the internet for long enough, and you will inevitably read someone remarking that some movie or another simply couldn't be made today. Usually it's bullshit. But the dark romantic comedy about a death-obsessed milksop of a young man meeting his 80 year-old girlfriend at a funeral? Yeah, that one could have only happened in the '70s, thanks to the minor miracle that was director Hal Ashby. Academy Theater.
Hecklevision's been taking nasty swipes at the Republican presidential candidates like a rowdy kitten high on catnip, but tonight promises to vacillate between cutesy fun and "holy shit look how much skin this little fucker took out of my arm!" because tonight is the Democrats' turn—and I don't know if you've checked anyone's Facebook lately, but people get pretty heated when you take shots at Bernie Sanders. Berns will be felt. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
Ip Man 3
A legendary Wing Chun master (Donnie Yen) finds his 1950s Hong Kong salad days threatened by both a family medical crisis and an upstart fighter looking to make his mark. While an improvement over 2010's dramatically inert second installment, this potentially final entry in the series is admittedly a bit pokey at times, with Yen struggling to keep the historical serenity of his character interesting. (A cameo by a certain aspiring student named Bruce helps a bit.) When the throwdowns do occur, though, Oh Holy Mother of God. Eschewing obvious wirework and CGI enhancements, director Wilson Yip and his team of maniacs concoct a delirious flurry of poles, axes, and a bunch of people matter-of-factly performing feats that they should not be able to do. And then a nattily dressed Mike Tyson shows up and picks a fight, and the roof is raised one more ludicrously awesome level. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
Kung Fu Panda 3
Jack Black (as a panda) finally meets his biological father Bryan Cranston (also a panda), who takes him to a secret panda sanctuary just in time for it to be threatened by J.K. Simmons (an evil, Kung Fu stealing spirit), which prompts Jack Black to train Al Roker (as a panda) and Kate Hudson (a panda as well) to protect the village and vanquish J.K. Simmons. Also starring Dustin Hoffman because bills must be paid. Various Theaters.
Kung Fu Theater
The Hollywood Theatre's Dan Halsted collects 35mm kung fu prints like Ash Ketchum catches Pokémon, and dude almost always grabs the rarest ones. Luckily, Mr. Halsted is a generous man, and is willing to share his treasures, like the only known 35mm print of Jade Claw, starring Billy Chong as a young pupil on the path of revenge following the death of his father by the evil master of the Phoenix Eye Fist. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
The Lady in the Van
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.
Oscar-Nominated Shorts—Live Action
This is your chance to get a leg up on the rest of the chumps in your Oscar betting pools, because you know they're just going eenie-meenie-miney-moe. Then again... half the people actually voting are just gonna eenie-meenie-miney-moe it, too. Might as well just enjoy all this high-quality international filmmaking packed into 30 minutes or less. Hollywood Theatre.
Some of the most adventurous filmmaking at this years Oscars will definitely be found in this program, including World of Tomorrow, the new hotness from mind-bending stick-figure animator Don Hertzfeldt, and director Sanjay Patel's much talked-about Sanjay's Super Team from Pixar. Hollywood Theatre.
Pages of Death
See review this issue. YouTube.
Portland Black Film Festival
If ever there was a year Portland needed writer/director David Walker and the Portland Black Film Festival, it's this one: With what feels like the entirety of pop culture focused on the unbearable whiteness of the Oscars, Walker's programming, highlighting the best in all aspects of black filmmaking, feels that much more vital. See next week's Mercury for more, including an interview with Walker. Hollywood Theatre.
Portland EcoFilm Festival
The environmentally-focused series presents Sunu, about the various communities dependent on rural corn farming in Mexico, and the not-always-comfortable interactions with the modern world dependent on their product. Hollywood Theatre.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
The latest from Birdman's Alejandro González Iñárritu is based on the book by Michael Punke (which, in turn, was inspired by the life of a particularly unlucky 19th century frontiersman). This is a movie in which Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) tries to make his way through the Montana wilderness to kill John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), the dickhead who left him to die in a shallow grave. After crawling from the frozen earth, Glass is reborn as a kind of unkillable ghost—determined to bleed, crawl, float, limp, and tumble his way to vengeance. And so the suffering commences, and continues, and continues, until The Revenant starts to feel less like a survival story and more like live-action Looney Tunes. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
If you're going to see a movie, see a fucking movie. Like, say, Akira Kurosawa's all-time classic Seven Samurai (1954), one of the finest adventure stories (and dramas, and romances, and comedies, and action flicks...) ever put on film. The Hollywood's got all three-plus hours of this can't-miss movie on the big screen, in 35mm, and in gorgeous black and white. ERIK HENRIKSEN Hollywood Theatre.
Son of Saul
No genre of film is as simultaneously consequential and vulnerable as the Holocaust genre. The Holocaust was the Worst Thing; the only worse that could possibly happen would be for it to be forgotten. So there's a tremendous responsibility to keep Holocaust stories alive—but then, over-abstraction, melodrama, and embellishment can all alter the course. Overwhelming respect for the gravity of that task has already resulted in a stunning accumulation of films. But in recent memory, none seem as capable of conveying the legacy of the Holocaust in as respectful and progressive a manner as László Nemes' debut feature, Son of Saul. MARJORIE SKINNER Cinema 21.
Stop Making Sense
"Hi. I have a tape I want to play." As far as opening lines go, this flat declaration sounds more like something the weirdo who sat behind me in fourth grade would blurt out than a great rock 'n' roll entrance. For that matter, David Byrne's white Keds and gray high-water slacks, seen padding onstage in the opening shot of Jonathan Demme's 1984 concert film Stop Making Sense, constitute a minor revelation themselves in the art of thwarting rock-god clichés. CHAS BOWIE Laurelhurst Theater.
Warrior: The Life of Leonard Peltier
KBOO presents as special screening of Suzie Baer's 1992 documentary, with Peltier's son Chauncy participating in a post-film Q&A. Clinton Street Theater.
The title of Paolo Sorrentino's new film is a bit of obvious misdirection. Make no mistake: Youth is about getting hella old, and to its credit, it makes becoming creaky and gray look like it's maybe not the worst thing in the world. It helps that composer Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine) and film director Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel) have been hugely successful in their work—their moneyed lifestyles permit them an extended visit at the incredibly plush Swiss spa where almost all of Youth is set. NED LANNAMANN Laurelhurst Theater.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, February 5-Thursday, February 11, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.