The 1971 Frank Zappa flick, shot on video and described by local filmmaker Chris Tenzis (who organized this screening) as "a post-modern junk sculpture of Joycean polysemy." Cinema 21.
See review. Various Theaters.
Along the Way: The Short Films of Brian Libby
Short travelogue films from local filmmaker Brian Libby. More info: brianlibby.com. Grand Detour.
Distant Interiors: Three Works by Kamal Aljafari
Cinema Project presents works by Palestinian filmmaker Kamal Aljafari. Director in attendance. More info: cinemaproject.org. Clinton Street Theater.
Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
"Fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous communist plot we have ever had to face." Laurelhurst Theater.
Exit Through the Gift Shop
With the way street art has moved in the last 20 years—deep into the crass, stupid logic of high-priced art—it's a relief and a minor miracle to experience major projects that are more than egotistical spectacles. Don't believe me? Watch Exit Through the Gift Shop. It's a hilarious and brilliant movie by the elusive British street artist Banksy, telling the story of "street" "artist" Mr. Brainwash, possibly the dumbest dangerous artist living, if he even is who he says he is (some question whether he's another Banksy act, which would be delightful). Mr. Brainwash, in the film, is Thierry Guetta, a Frenchman with a penchant for saying things like "Everything that I do, somewhere, brainwashes your face." The basis for his art—very big, very expensive (he sets his own prices, of course) colored prints and paintings—is celebrities and consumer products. If Warhol threw up, and then Damien Hirst threw up on top of that, and then the throwup threw up, Mr. Brainwash's work would be the result. And yet hundreds of people show up to his openings, buy the art, and pronounce how happy they are that this art isn't all snotty and exclusive. Here the banality is actually banal. The brainlessness is not ironic. The hype is the only meaning. Two hundred kids are standing in a line to get into the show because 199 other kids are standing in the line. JEN GRAVES Fox Tower 10.
Field Guide to November Days
Taken literally, the locally made Field Guide to November Days could be read as a guide for Portland's young and aimless. Beer, coffee, bikes, house shows, and awkward sex appear prominently on the film's landscape of rental houses stuffed with kitschy knickknacks. At times it honestly feels like a parody of all the stereotypes, a Look at This Fucking Hipster: The Movie in shades of mumblecore. Still, its execution is demonstrably sensitive and artful, and while the dramatically somber tone could use a cut of humor or further darkness to texturize the rather one-note mood, the skills and attention brought to the screen are an exciting indication of what director Nick Peterson can bring to the table. MARJORIE SKINNER Hollywood Theatre.
From Russia with Love
"I think it's a very lovely mouth. It's just the right size... for me, anyway." Laurelhurst Theater.
Future So Bright
Local filmmaker Matt McCormick presents his "mapping and documentation project that catalogs abandoned spaces in the American West," along with a selection of his short films and music videos. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Get Him to the Greek
As it is, ever so loosely, a sequel to 2008's Forgetting Sarah Marshall, it's hardly surprising that Get Him to the Greek feels similar to Marshall and much of the Judd Apatow-produced canon. What is surprising is how deftly Greek maximizes everything Apatow flicks do well: sharp writing, clever improv, and comedy that, miraculously, is about actual characters. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first book in Steig Larsson's Millennium trilogy, and a bestseller in Europe and the US. The new film adaptation centers on the unlikely relationship between Mikael and Lisbeth, a journalist and a young hacker who team up to investigate a long-unsolved mystery—and the pathological misogyny that is apparently endemic to Swedish culture. But even at 152 minutes, no insights emerge, other than that women get raped and murdered a lot. It's a shame, too—Girl is beautifully shot, and Mikael and Lisbeth are odd, sympathetic characters. I just wish their investigation didn't involve quite so many pictures of naked, mutilated dead women. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
The Good, the Bad, the Weird
Enthusiasm counts. A lot. The South Korean spaghetti western The Good, the Bad, the Weird is 30 minutes too long, and I'm pretty sure it's packed with allegories to South Korean history/and or politics that'll go right over most Americans' heads. (At least, I certainly felt like a good chunk of subtext was drifting overhead.) But still: For anybody who likes westerns and action flicks, it's a must-see. Director Kim Ji-Woon clearly has so much fun staging the film's epic, ludicrously brilliant action sequences that one can't help but be consumed by their exuberant, exhilarating chaos. ERIK HENRIKSEN Cinema 21.
A British thriller in which Michael Caine sets out for revenge! Fox Tower 10.
The Karate Kid
See review. Various Theaters.
Lords of Nature: Life in a Land of Great Predators
Peter Coyote narrates this documentary about "the role top predators play in restoring and maintaining ecosystems and biodiversity." Just like Jurassic Park! Hollywood Theatre.
Portland Underground Film Festival
See Film, this issue. Clinton Street Theater.
Nicole Holofcener makes complex, thoughtful movies about women. About female friendships, in the cult classic Walking and Talking; about female self-image, in the underrated Lovely and Amazing; about female careers, in the capable Friends with Money. With her newest, Please Give, Holofcener makes it clear from the film's opening moments that her focus hasn't changed: The credits roll over a montage of naked breasts, varied and unshapely and a little uncomfortable as they're weighed and smooshed into mammogram machines. ALISON HALLETT Fox Tower 10.
Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage
At long, long last, the Rush documentary you've been waiting for! Cinema 21.
Spike & Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation
The Spike & Mike fest just keeps on going, year after year—so somebody must be going. More info: spikeandmike.com. Cinema 21.
A bizarre take on the standard creature feature, with uncomfortable sex scenes and really uncomfortable mommy issues—because while there may be a deadly science experiment on the loose, Splice's true monster is a mad mommy scientist. But for all its oddities, Splice comes off as David Cronenberg lite, a film with a few touches of visceral skeeviness and a striking cinematic palette, but little tension or empathy for the main characters. COURTNEY FERGUSON Various Theaters.
Ray (David Roberts) is having an extramarital affair with Carla (Claire van der Boom), and the two hatch a plot to run away with a bag of money stolen from Carla's mulleted dirtbag of a husband. It's worth mentioning that Ray and Carla are both guileless up to this point—they're naïvely and genuinely in love with each other—and when their plans unravel, the spiraling repercussions are immense and almost absurd. The Square follows a gripping, increasingly intense coil of a plot, resulting in an exhilarating, grimly hilarious, and surprisingly moving film. It's one of the most satisfying thrillers in recent memory. NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre.
The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector
Phil Spector is equal parts genius and madman. Despite director Vikram Jayanti's sledgehammer editorializing, this documentary, built solely around footage of Spector's 2007 murder trial and a queasily candid interview with the famous producer, is haunting and watchable. DAVE BOW Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
The Wind Journeys
A Colombian twist on Robert Johnson's meeting the devil at the crossroads. A tight-lipped minstrel, Ignacio, is saddled with the devil's accordion and an envious boy; their quest to return the cursed instrument is a crisp, colorful odyssey across a land of magic realism. ANDREW R TONRY Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.