12 Angry Men
"No jury can declare a man guilty unless it's sure. We nine can't understand how you three are still so sure. Maybe you can tell us." Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
2001: A Space Odyssey
"Look, Dave, I can see you're really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over." Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
The Adventures of Mark Twain
Will Vinton's 1986 claymation film about Mark Twain (voiced by James Whitmore). Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Alice in Wonderland
The fact that Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland isn't a straight retelling of the Lewis Carroll books might be motivated, as stated, by a desire to give the tale more narrative heft, but it also feels like a pulled punch. (In his version Alice is 19, returning to the place she thought she'd dreamed of as a child.) Following Alice (Mia Wasikowska) through Burton's Wonderland is a perfectly scenic carnival ride—punctuated with the occasional plucked eyeball and rotting severed head—but the attempts to work up the plot with simple conflicts and run-of-the-mill setups are little more than enablers to the next visual treat. Burton seems torn between the intimidation of a beloved classic and confidence in his own appeal, but somewhere in the middle with Burton and Alice is not a terrible place to be stuck. MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters.
The Art of the Steal
Wealthy misanthrope Dr. Albert C. Barnes spent the better part of his adult life assembling what has since become one of the most enviable (and valuable) collections of post-impressionist art in the world—all the while pledging to keep it out of the hands of all those philistines at the national museums. Satisfyingly one-sided, The Art of the Steal tells the compelling story of conspiracy, greed, and political outrage that followed Barnes' heir-less death. ZAC PENNINGTON Cinema 21.
Back to the Future
"No McFly ever amounted to anything in the history of Hill Valley!" Laurelhurst Theater.
The Bounty Hunter
See review. Various Theaters.
MTV vet Antoine Fuqua was staking out a career as a dependable B-movie director until 2001's cred-boosting Training Day, a fairly routine crime thriller elevated by Denzel Washington's ferocious jet stream. Brooklyn's Finest, Fuqua's heralded return to the genre, lands firmly in Clichéville: a place where an Italian cop has sons named Vinnie and Vito; an undercover detective enters a bar as "The Great Pretender" plays on the jukebox; and an aged, world-weary veteran does drugs to the strains of "White Rabbit." (Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" presumably got lost under a car seat on its way to the mixing studio.) Throw in some ridiculous bursts of overdone violence and the most embarrassing sex scene that Richard Gere's name has ever been associated with, and you've got a movie that bears a distinct resemblance to an episode of The Simpsons' starring McBain. ANDREW WRIGHT Broadway Metroplex, City Center 12, Lloyd Mall 8.
An adoring, overlong homage to the omnipresent buddy cop flicks of the '80s. Beverly Hills Cop, 48 Hours, Stakeout, Lethal Weapon—all are represented and lovingly mined to create what director Kevin Smith obviously hoped would be the über-buddy cop movie. Half the time you'll laugh harder than during most of the films you'll see all year, and half the time you'll shift in your seat and feel like someone's poking you with a fork. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
If you're going to see one remake of a 1970s horror flick this year... no seriously, you could do so much worse than The Crazies. It's a remake of George A. Romero's 1973 film of the same name, in which a town loses its shit after the military accidentally releases a sanity-shaking toxin into the water supply. I haven't seen the original, so please don't ask me how it stacks up—but I can tell you that this one is scary. COURTNEY FERGUSON Various Theaters.
A great film that centers around a grizzled slab of a man, in the waning sunset years of life, battling addiction and years of neglect to once again regain his faded glory. At his side, an inspiring young woman hides scars of her own even as she acts as the muse that triggers his valiant comeback. If all this sounds familiar, it is. It's impossible to ignore the fact that no matter how excellent Crazy Heart is, the screenwriter should pay royalties to Robert Siegel, writer of The Wrestler. EZRA ACE CARAEFF Various Theaters.
The Cry of the Owl
The 1962 novel by Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train, The Talented Mr. Ripley), adapted into a movie starring Julia Stiles. Paddy Considine plays a guy who stalks Stiles, only to get stalked back--and then murder and needlessly convoluted bullshit happens. The whole thing has the tone of a misguided vanity project like The Room, paired with the self-serious production of The Butterfly Effect or The Mothman Prophecies. But those movies are at least kind of fun to watch; The Cry of the Owl just sucks. DAVE BOW Fox Tower 10.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
See review. Various Theaters.
Jenny (Carey Mulligan) is a precocious high schooler in 1960s Britain, an overachiever bound for Oxford—until the day she accepts a ride home from a wealthy older man (the phrase "stranger danger" apparently hadn't been coined yet). The cultured, well-traveled David (Peter Saarsgard) seems like the perfect suitor, and before long, their whirlwind romance has entirely replaced Jenny's dreams of attending Oxford. The film is meticulous in detailing exactly what value was placed on a woman's education in the 1960s, and Jenny's decision to forgo her schooling for a more glamorous life is well-contextualized. But for all its beautiful costumes, beautiful actors, and beautiful cars, there's something dry about An Education, something sexless and preachy. Perhaps it's a concession to modern mores—guys like David are creeps, we're subtly reassured, even if no one in the '60s realized it yet. Either way, the whiff of judgmental hindsight that comes off An Education ensures that its characters, and their decisions, remain at arm's length. ALISON HALLETT Academy Theater, Fox Tower 10, Laurelhurst Theater.
The Ghost Writer
Fuck the Polanski apologists—if some time behind bars will prevent this man from making any more movies like The Ghost Writer, it's a win-win for everyone. Ewan McGregor plays the titular scribe, who's been handed what appears to be the gig of a lifetime: the chance to ghost the memoirs of a recently disgraced former British prime minister (Pierce Brosnan). One thing, though: The ghost's predecessor just wound up swimming with the fishes under exceedingly suspicious circumstances. Within minutes, the film's mystery begins to unfold like a Hanna-Barbera cartoon as acted by a series of Tennessee Williams heroines. Suffice to say, Chinatown this is not. ZAC PENNINGTON Various Theaters.
Adapting journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran's book Imperial Life in the Emerald City, screenwriter Brian Helgeland's narrative jumps between hard-hitting action sequences and less-than-hard-hitting scenes of politically loaded dialogue. It's March of 2003, and Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller's (Matt Damon) job is to track down WMDs in Baghdad. The only problem—and you'll never see this coming!—is that whenever he gets to a place where WMDs are supposed to be, there's jack shit. Green Zone works when it deals not with simplified moral quandaries, but rather when it's dominated by director Paul Greengrass' action chops: His camera feverish and eager, Greengrass' action scenes burst with momentum and catharsis. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Seven Japanese schoolgirls visit a haunted house in Nobuhiko Obayashi's 1977 head-trip, which is quite simply one of the weirdest movies I have ever seen. The effects are incredibly cheesy and the movie refuses to settle on a consistent tone, but Obayashi's visual style creates a wispy, sugary dream world that gushes with blood. NED LANNAMANN Cinema 21.
See review this issue. OMSI Omnimax.
The Human Canvas Project
A video of a show at the Fez Ballroom, in which 17 nude women had slides and video projected onto their naked bodies. Apparently, it's not stripping, it's "art." And no, we don't understand the difference. Bring single bills, gents! Cinema 21.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus' immediate distinction is not that it was directed by Terry Gilliam—it's that it's the last movie to appear on Heath Ledger's IMDB page. Parnassus stars Ledger as Tony, a shady businessman who's rescued from near death by a passing traveling circus. The circus, run by one Dr. Parnassus (Christopher Plummer), boasts a magical "Imaginarium," a gateway to a world that's molded by the imaginations of all who enter. Gilliam salvaged enough of Ledger's performance that Tony's character is grounded in the real world—it's only in the world of the Imaginarium that he's replaced by actors Jude Law, Johnny Depp, and Colin Farrell, thanks to a tweak to the plot (when you go inside the Imaginarium... your face changes! Sure, okay). Ledger's death necessitated this device, but every time Depp or Farrell's face pops up, it's an unwelcome reminder not only of Ledger's death, but that these actors are only present thanks to this fairly flimsy last-minute workaround. ALISON HALLETT Laurelhurst Theater, Living Room Theaters.
A local documentary that examines "the lives and creative work of five Portland day laborers." Clinton Street Theater.
The Last Station
While the expression "behind every great man is a great woman" has rightfully fallen into disuse, The Last Station is based on just such a historical formulation: the turbulent relationship between Leo Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer) and his wife, Sofya (fiercely portrayed by Helen Mirren). This, though, is no tale of stoic devotion, of wifey tending the fires while her husband is out sowing his genius. Sofya Tolstoy is indeed devoted to her husband—they've been married for 50 years, during which time she's served as his supporter and secretary, famously copying multiple drafts of War and Peace by hand. She is also utterly determined to see his legacy preserved, in a manner that befits both of their labors. Leo and Sofya's grand, crumbling passion is depicted with unerring emotional precision by Plummer and Mirren. ALISON HALLETT Fox Tower 10, Hollywood Theatre.
The Magnificent Seven
"We deal in lead, friend." Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Our Family Wedding
Okay, so you know black people? You know how they are? Okay, okay, what about Latino people? Funny, right? See, I just had the funniest idea for a movie... what if a black guy and a Latina got married?! HAHAHAHAHA! Can you fucking imagine?! The Mexican family would probably bring a goat to the wedding! And the goat would go through Forest Whitaker's drawers and eat his Viagra and Magnum condoms! Then the goat would hump the Last King of Scotland and Carlos Mencia would be all, "DURR DA DURRH!" What? No! That's not broad racial humor! That same thing happens in a pivotal scene of Our Family Wedding? My friend, what you may call a collection of crude two-dimensional stereotypes wallowing in bland sentimentality, I call the welcome debut of the Whitaker/Mencia comedy duo! DAVE BOW Various Theaters.
The Painter Sam Francis
A doc about Sam Francis, "the leading light of American abstract art." Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
See review. Fox Tower 10.
The Red Baron
See review. Hollywood Theatre.
Rem Koolhaas: A Kind of Architect
Dutchman Rem Koolhaas is one of the most interesting architects working today—combining architecture with urban planning and design, he built the Seattle library, the Dutch embassy in Berlin, and was recently commissioned to build the headquarters for China's biggest television station in Beijing. He also designs buildings for Prada, cementing his rock-starchitect status. Sadly, this documentary doesn't do him justice. It's incoherent, overly theoretical and shoddily shot. MATT DAVIS Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Tyler (Robert Pattinson), a New York college student still reeling from his brother's suicide, meets Allie (Emilie de Ravin), still reeling from her mother's murder. Meanwhile, he struggles with a brutally distant dad and an oddball little sis; she struggles with an angry cop dad and a propensity for saying annoying shit. Tyler and Allie have sex. They cling to each other. They love each other soooooo much! Remember Me puts its characters (and audience) through an absurd lot of trauma: There are beatings, arrests, lies, betrayals, break-ups, make-ups, tears, hot sexings, apologies, and apologies accepted. And then, at the end of the movie, once things are finally looking up—when Allie is smiling and making French toast, when Tyler is waiting for his dad (whose heart has finally defrosted) in his high-rise office, when Tyler's little sister, her tormentors cowed at last, sits contentedly in class—Tyler gazes out the office window at the sunny horizon. Then the little sister's teacher moves aside to reveal the date written on the blackboard: It is September 11, 2001. The camera pulls back. Tyler stands framed in the window of the fucking World Trade Center. History's most famous plane crashes right into Tyler's stupid face. HAHAAHAHAAHAHAHAAAAA! Fuck off. LINDY WEST Various Theaters.
See review. Various Theaters.
She's Out of My League
There's only one thing notable about the (ostensible) comedy She's Out of My League, and that's how blatantly it rips off the past 15 years of American comedic filmmaking. Kevin Smith's seen-it-all sarcasm. Judd Apatow's insistence that nice guys finish first. The no-they-didn't raunch of American Pie, and the buddy bonding of I Love You, Man. They're all here, distilled down to their dumbest elements—minus brains, cleverness, genuine wit, or actors charismatic enough to float a film. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
The sort of movie where supposedly smart characters do idiotic things; where lightning dramatically flashes to underscore plot developments; where things lunge from shadows not because it makes sense for them to do so but because... well, lunging is just what things in shadows do. Director Martin Scorsese seems eager to try out some time-honored genre clichés: The music jolts, character actors offer dire warnings, and for its first hour or so, Shutter Island is, if not scary, satisfyingly creepy. I won't spoil how it ends, but suffice to say there's a shot of Leonardo DiCaprio screaming "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" at the heavens, and also that the climax would be considered pretty shoddy even by M. Night Shyamalan's standards. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Sing-Along Mary Poppins
Can you sing better than Julie Andrews? No? Then shut the fuck up. Cinema 21.
A small-town detective drama of uncertain tone, Terribly Happy concerns a Copenhagen cop who's reassigned to the countryside after a breakdown leaves him rattled and pill-dependent. Supposedly a very dark comedy, it's hard to find much to laugh at here, as the well-intentioned cop slowly comes around to the town's corrupt, wife-beating ways. ALISON HALLETT Fox Tower 10.
Toe to Toe
A film about two lacrosse players—one black, one white—at a Washington DC prep school. LACROSSE DRAMA! Not screened for critics. Living Room Theaters.
A Town Called Panic
Good luck getting the kids to settle down for a movie with subtitles. Adults won't fare much better with this spastic, meandering stop-motion adventure that boasts pretty designs but rinky-dink animation. ANDREW R TONRY Hollywood Theatre.
The White Ribbon
A smoldering and horrifying masterpiece from Austrian director Michael Haneke (Funny Games). The methodical, even glacial, pace of the film, which lingers on mundane and momentous exchanges alike, draws the audience unwittingly into a subtly taut experience. You may not find yourself gripping the edge of your seat in the theater, but the wary sense of secret evil will dog you for days. MARJORIE SKINNER Fox Tower 10.