Fellini's much-beloved 1963 classic. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Liam Neeson and Bradley Cooper are certainly roguish enough as Hannibal and Face, while Sharlto Copley acts sufficiently nutbaggy as Murdock, and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson as B.A. Baracus... well, he's doing the best he can in the impossible job of following Mr. T. The first half of The A-Team practically crackles with winky wit that pops up in unexpected places, and the cartoonish violence of the original plays surprisingly well in some of the over-the-top earlier scenes. However, the charm that dominates the first half falls victim to Michael Bay-style visual histrionics during the final reels. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
In the same way that March of the Penguins anthropomorphized penguins (they mate for life because they love each other!), Babies effectively humanizes... babies. Sure, babies are technically "humans"—but they're also, to the uninitiated, irrational, confusing, and vaguely disgusting. (I'm not totally sure what "new baby smell" is, but I think it might be poop.) Babies provides a moms' eye view of four infants in four different countries: the US, Japan, Mongolia, and Namibia. Sure, it's like watching home movies for 80 minutes—but at least they're home movies with an eye-openingly global reach. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
Bike Porn 4Play
The latest adult bike-themed shorts from the Bike Porn gang. Clinton Street Theater.
Portland filmmaker Matt Briggs spent two years shooting Deep Green, an upbeat documentary about green technology. Briggs starts with redoing his own home to have a smaller carbon footprint; from there, he travels around the world to hear the pro-business, pro-environment pitch from green building and energy leaders. The film is crisply shot and well-edited, but watching the go-green lectures feels like doing homework. Visiting everything from electric car dealers to coal power plants to a Chinese senior-citizen environmental education class that sings, "For the sake of country and family, conserve and reuse organic waste!", the information is thick and the story thin. SARAH MIRK Bagdad Theater.
A romantic ghost story that IS NOT to be confused with the romantic vampire story The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. Or maybe they're the same thing. Whatever. Not screened for critics. Living Room Theaters.
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.
Far from Heaven
Todd Haynes' 2002 drama about a '50s housewife facing confusion and... and ... a '50s housewife... facing... a '50s... ZZZZZZZZZZZzzzz. The Press Club.
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 City Center 12, Hollywood Theatre, Living Room Theaters.
The Good, the Bad, the Weird
The first 20 minutes of Kim Ji-Woon's The Good, the Bad, the Weird are a fun, quirky subversion of the Western. Then it veers sharply into well-choreographed—but still goofy—swashbuckler territory, substituting tons o' guns for broadswords. And after 20 minutes of that, the movie explodes into pure cinematic bedlam, scattering buckshot, dynamite, vehicles, and animals all over the screen. Perhaps the best action movie in South Korean history. BOBBY "FATBOY" ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
The Gray Area
Despite being weighed down by a sluggish script and a hackneyed plot, the locally produced The Gray Area is a well-shot drama that appears to have an actual budget and makes decent use of its Portland-bred talent. It tells the tale of three best bros who return home to attend the funeral of their fourth best bro who may or may not have overdosed. NOAH "THE INTERN" DUNHAM Hollywood Theatre.
It's about time writer/director Noah Baumbach wrote a full-fledged character study, because his attention to the details that make up a personality is peerless. Baumbach's last movie, Margot at the Wedding, relentlessly catalogued the anxieties and quirks of two estranged sisters—but while the depiction of family dynamics was razor sharp, Margot's characters were so generally unpleasant that by the time Jennifer Jason Leigh pooped her pants in the woods, it was hard to care how all that meticulously detailed moping would be resolved. With Greenberg—in which Ben Stiller plays an unstable New York carpenter who's just relocated to LA—Baumbach tempers his lacerating insights with a humor that recalls his excellent 2005 film The Squid and the Whale. ALISON HALLETT Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
The Guns of Navarone
"Greece and the islands of the Aegean Sea have given birth to many myths and legends of war and adventure...." Laurelhurst Theater.
A British thriller in which Michael Caine sets out for revenge! Fox Tower 10.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
The Karate Kid
The Karate Kid is pure formula: uncut, chemical-grade, Rocky-brand dope. It's blatantly, unfairly manipulative, and I love it for that; even when plot points were telegraphed from continents away, I still smiled when they reached me, largely due to Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan's great performances. This is one of the few remakes that could be better than the original. BOBBY "FATBOY" ROBERTS Various Theaters.
An action comedy flick starring—shudder—Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl. Mercifully, it was not screened for critics. Various Theaters.
Owen Wilson voices the dog from the funny pages in yet another "talking CG animal" flick marketed to halfwit children. Not screened for critics. Bridgeport Village Stadium 18, Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing, Century Clackamas Town Center, Forest Theatre, Oak Grove 8 Cinemas, Sherwood 10.
A documentary about men in Al-Qaeda. Not screened for critics. Living Room Theaters.
A flick following three fugitives who are on the run. Not screened for critics, so you know it's gotta be good! Living Room Theaters.
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 City Center 12, Fox Tower 10.
Prince of Persia:
The Sands of Time
Someday videogame movies will have their Ghost World, their American Splendor—a breakout film that will bring a marginalized medium a degree of mainstream recognition. Maybe Jake Gyllenhaal will even star in that movie. But in the meantime, courtesy of Disney and the guy who directed Mona Lisa Smile, videogames make another predictably awkward transition to the big screen in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time—a movie whose primary selling points are Gyllenhaal's admittedly compelling abs. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
A local documentary about minister Marilyn Swell, who considers leaving the ministry and "questions her future, her difficult past, her god, and... her ability to love." Hollywood Theatre.
With Ridley Scott's Robin Hood, instead of seeing Robin Hood take from the rich and give to the poor, or fight the Sheriff of Nottingham, or do anything cool at all, we get to watch Braveheart again. This time, Robin's named Robin Longstride (he's played by Russell Crowe, who seems to have been told to glower a lot), and he's an archer for the soon-to-be-dead King Richard (Danny Huston). Through various convoluted and interminable plot devices, Robin ends up in the village of Nottingham, where he glowers sexily at Marion Loxley (Cate Blanchett) and gets increasingly pissed about how Richard's successor, King John (Oscar Isaac), is a total douche. Oh, and the French are invading! Nineteen hours later, it all ends with a big speech and a bigger battle, and there's also a weird scene where Robin delves into his repressed childhood memories. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
With its interminable sex scenes and abandoned plot threads, some could say The Room is a "bad" movie, but this raises the question of what makes a movie "good." Is it a comprehensible script? Believable acting? Sets that don't look like they're going to topple over at any second? The Room contains none of these elements, yet that hardly detracts from its remarkably high entertainment value. In fact, The Room may have you questioning the reasons you've ever enjoyed anything in your life—as well as serving as incontrovertible proof that making a movie is very, very difficult. Director in attendance. See My, What a Busy Week! NED LANNAMANN Cinema 21.
The Secret in Their Eyes
Secret plays games at its outset, toggling between past and present and teasing the audience with setups that make it difficult to determine what's real and imagined. It takes its time getting to the point: Benjamín Esposito (Ricardo Darín) is a retired "federal justice agent" in Argentina obsessed with a rape and murder case he tackled 25 years prior. He decides to write a book about it, and as he peels back the layers on his earlier investigation alongside the woman he carries a torch for, Irene (Soledad Villamil), and his tragically alcoholic colleague Pablo (Guillermo Francella), he stumbles onto new clues to the case's mysteries. It's a fair but obvious criticism that the film is indecisive in its focus, and that even its finale leaves questions and motives in the balance. But it is a richly textured film, bordering on epic. MARJORIE SKINNER Fox Tower 10.
The Secret of Kells
With graceful, emotional animation, brilliant character designs, and a watercolor-dappled visual style that lands somewhere between Saul Bass and Genndy Tartakovsky, every frame of Kells is amazing to look at—but it's the film's humor, heart, and melancholy that makes it really work. Stuff this good—this exhilarating, sweet, clever, poignant—simply doesn't come along very often. ERIK HENRIKSEN Fox Tower 10.
Sex and the City 2
Sex and the City 2 is basically the gayest fan-fiction ever put to celluloid: familiar faces in new settings, guest stars (Miley! Liza! Tim Gunn!), and lots and lots of bad wordplay. It's a sequel with, for better or worse, tremendous affection for its characters, which goes a long way toward watchability—and while real fans may consider this bit of fanfic a non-canonical outrage, this outsider thought that, for what it is, it was just fine. DAVE BOW Various Theaters.
Sniff: The Movie
Sniff proudly proclaims that it's "a new genre of film—a serious documentary wrapped in a fictional comedic story." It tells the stories of several dogs—from search-and-rescue dog Gabby to Zoe, a surfing Jack Russell—and contains "fascinating bits of science and dog lore." You can bring your dog to the Friday, June 18 screening, an evening that will either be adorable or insufferable. Clinton Street Theater.
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.
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.
Stonewall Uprising documents the Stonewall riots of New York's Greenwich Village in the summer of 1969. The spontaneous and violent riots, which essentially started the modern gay rights movement, are recounted through present-day interviews with both Stonewall demonstrators and policemen. What makes this documentary so compelling is the film's depiction of the oppressive reality facing homosexuals living in the 1960s. This sociological background—where homosexuality was considered both a mental illness and a crime—illuminates the collective frustration that turned a routine police raid on a gay bar into a series of protests that sparked a revolution. ANDREW "THE INTERN" MICHAAN Cinema 21.
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
The first film in Park Chan-Wook's phenomenal "Vengeance Trilogy" (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, Lady Vengeance) kicks off the Northwest Film Center's "Asian Trilogies" series, also featuring works from Yajuziro Ozu and Wong Kar-Wai. See next week's Mercury for more info. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Toy Story 3
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre.