2012: Time for Change
"Can we evolve our consciousness to reconnect with the natural world?" So asks this depressing yet hopeful documentary about how everything is basically fucked (but we can fix it!). Yoga, green urban planning, and psychedelic drugs are among the scattered film's proposed solutions to the world's dire economic, political, and environmental crises. 2012 is not necessarily a bad film—it's just full of information you probably already know. You're better off spending your money on a yoga mat or a compost bin, which is essentially what the movie wants you to do anyway. ANDREW "THE INTERN" MICHAAN Living Room Theaters.
7th Planet Picture Show
Local blogger/KJ Will Radik hosts a film screening during which he and others heckle the shit out of crappy movies, Mystery Science Theater 3000-style. Mt. Tabor Theater.
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.
"A series of documentary vignettes that provide a current look at contemporary artists living and making art in Portland," including Adam Arnold and Ann Ploeger. More info: nwfilm.org. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
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 Hollywood Theatre.
Terry Zwigoff's phenomenal portrait of comics artist Robert Crumb and his effed-up family. It's beautiful and sad and funny and uncomfortable and great. Watch it! ERIK HENRIKSEN Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
See review. Fox Tower 10.
When Pat Spurgeon isn't keeping the beat behind the kit for indie popsters Rogue Wave, he's trudging a harrowing medical crisis brought on by kidney failure. If you think being a touring musician is tough, try doing it while being run through the ringers of the health care system, or while giving yourself dialysis in the tour van. D-Tour follows the charismatic and tenacious Spurgeon as he continues to write, record, tour, and wait for a new kidney. This documentary will warm, and break, your heart—so pack some tissues, and be sure to fill out your organ donor card on the way out. Director in attendance. EZRA ACE CARAEFF Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Being a kid can be difficult and scary, but being a parent can be downright terrifying. Lenny (a phenomenal Ronald Bronstein) sees his two sons for only two weeks out of the year, and those two weeks turn his life on its end. Lenny's basically a kid too, so putting him in any position of responsibility is a horrible idea. But the boys—you can see how wild they are becoming—create their own world with Lenny in his small New York studio apartment. Shot with Cassavetes-like realism by brothers Ben and Joshua Safdie (who no doubt are drawing from the well of their own upbringing), the movie captures fleeting truths as it pinpoints the very narrow line between hilarious and tragic. I have a feeling that Daddy Longlegs is going to bug some real-life parents to no end. It should. This is a movie that's impossible to shake. NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre.
Why, Hello Tina Fey of TV's 30 Rock! It's great to see you! You are likeable and charming and hilarious! And who's that with you? Why, it's Steve Carell, of TV's The Office! You, sir, are also likeable and charming and hilarious! You aren't as pretty as Tina Fey, but then, no one is. And who is this? Oh. It's... Shawn Levy. The director of Cheaper by the Dozen. And The Pink Panther remake. And Night at the Museum. And the second Night at the Museum. [CHIRPING SOUND OF CRICKETS CHIRPING] ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
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 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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
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 Living Room 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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater, Valley Theater.
See My, What a Busy Week! Hollywood Theatre.
Early in Grown Ups, when Kevin James breaks an above-ground swimming pool (because he is fat, you see), I laughed. I also laughed when Salma Hayek threw a rock and it hit a kid in the nuts. Clearly, I do not have lofty standards for comedy. And yet: Those (hilarious!) moments aside, Grown Ups feels 9,000 hours long. Its existence will convert some viewers to atheism. In endless stretches, tone-deaf jokes fall flat; entire scenes collapse with the thud of incompetence. It is boring. It makes one nostalgic for the act of laughing. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
A British thriller in which Michael Caine sets out for revenge! Living Room Theaters.
How to Train Your Dragon
Essentially a "boy and his dog" story in the vein of Old Yeller, only nobody gets rabies and the dog is a fucking dragon. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
See My, What a Busy Week! Bagdad Theater.
Iron Man 2
Iron Man 2 isn't as well made as its predecessor—it's noisier, sillier, clumsier, and a bit less clever—but it's just as enjoyable. Everything important gets checked off: Robert Downey Jr. being awesome as Tony Stark/Iron Man? Check. Iron Man being superheroic and getting amusingly drunk? Check. Mickey Rourke as Whiplash, a ridiculous Russian villain who looks like an extra from Eastern Promises? Check. Scarlett Johansson as a spy/the hottest woman of all time? Check. AC/DC blaring on the soundtrack? Check. Roger from Mad Men playing Tony Stark's dad, thus indisputably proving that coolness is hereditary? Check. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
The result of years spent trying to reconstruct her face into relevance and shilling for any product that'll pay her, Joan Rivers' persona has come to overshadow her accomplishments. A Piece of Work gives her life and work a deserved re-contextualization—a reminder that behind the diva shenanigans and synthetic face is a performer who's legitimately influential, pioneering, and above all, pretty damn funny. ALISON HALLETT Cinema 21.
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.
Knight and Day
Long ago in the annals of history—the 1600s, I believe—Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz were pert, attractive stars of the cinema, spearheading big-budget Hollywood picture shows and charming their audiences with their clear complexions and adept skills at walking and talking. In the intervening centuries, however, both Cruise and Diaz have turned into gently defective androids laminated inside hot plastic. As for the walking and talking? They can manage, but not without inducing a wriggling feeling of discomfort in the audience—the same discomfort you might experience watching a crippled child cross a busy street, or a very expensive robot bump into a wall. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
The Last Airbender
See review. Various Theaters.
For the first time since 1992's Wayne's World, there's an SNL movie that won't make you want to throw yourself off a freeway overpass. ERIK HENRIKSEN Academy Theater, Bagdad Theater, Laurelhurst Theater, Mission Theater.
Media That Matters
Twelve short films aiming to "entertain, inform, and inspire" by covering "such topics as health care, sexual identity, racial tension, human rights, and immigration." Hmm. The new Twilight sounds better. Hollywood Theatre.
Colin Farrell plays an Irish fisherman who catches a girl in his net. Only she's not a girl, she's a selkie—a sort of mermaid-y thing that's half-woman, half-seal. She sings in a weird language he's never heard, they fall in love, she becomes a mother figure to his crippled kid, and blah blah Hallmark bullshit with an Irish accent. But is this seal-woman all that she seems? Ondine is directed by Neil Jordan, who also directed The Crying Game, so you can be sure there's gonna be a twist. No, the selkie isn't a dude with a penis, but the revelation is equally stupid... oh, look. You're not going to see this anyway, right? I may as well just spoil it for you: She's a Romanian drug mule on the run, and that mystical language she sings in? It's fucking Sigur Rós. This movie blows. NED LANNAMANN 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, Hollywood Theatre, Lake Twin Cinema.
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.
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.
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 Hollywood Theatre.
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 Hollywood Theatre.
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.
Shrek Forever After
You're at Shrek Forever After because you have kids and they are easily marketed to. You're sitting down in the theater about 30 bucks lighter because making your kids happy is of some importance to you. You know what you're going to get at this point, because you've survived three movies' worth of Mike Myers' garbage-assed Scottish accent and Eddie Murphy's buffoonery sprinkled over the top of a pop-culture lasagna transmogrified into a film script. You're just hoping it moves fast, and your kids don't shit their pants or start eating their goddamned 3D glasses before it ends. BOBBY "FATBOY" ROBERTS Various Theaters.
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.
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 Living Room Theaters.
The Sun Behind the Clouds:
Tibet's Struggle for Freedom
"A uniquely Tibetan perspective on the trials and tribulations of the Dalai Lama and his people." Narrated by Tracy Morgan. Hollywood Theatre.
Toy Story 3
Well gosh darn it, you sure won't be surprised about what I have to say about Toy Story 3—it's a terrible piece of malarkey just like you thought, full of talking plasticine toys and inane gibberish about being a loyal friend, and oh boy, does it look like a blind preschooler created it using Microsoft Paint while hopped up on Ritalin. Yep, just dreadful... like everything you've seen from those Pixar hacks. Okay, yeah, I'm full of shit. I just don't want to write the same fawning review that everyone is going to write. Toy Story 3 is an absolute delight, full of adventure and nostalgia and most of the characters you've already grown to love in 1995 and 1999 (little green aliens!!!). COURTNEY FERGUSON Various Theaters.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
See review. Various Theaters.
The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia
See review. Clinton Street Theater.