48-Hour Film Project
The best of Portland's entries from the 48-Hour Film Project, in which teams of local filmmakers had a scant two days to create a film. More info: 48hourfilm.com/Portland. Hollywood Theatre.
Beverly Hills Cop
"Foul-mouthed? Fuck you, man!" Laurelhurst Theater.
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
Fritz Lang's 1956 thriller, screened as Lang always intended: on the roof of a hotel. With beer. Hotel deLuxe
Charlie St. Cloud
The latest vehicle for High School Musical prettyboy Zac Efron. Fingers crossed it's as good as 17 Again! Various Theaters.
The Complete Metropolis
The Complete Metropolis, as the version playing this week in Portland is billed, is a bit of a misnomer—thanks to bits of film lost to time and poor storage technology, there are still missing scenes and interstitials explaining plot chunks. But after a 16mm copy of the film was found in Argentina, containing a full half-hour of footage that nobody thought existed, this is the closest the world has come to seeing Metropolis the way it was intended to be seen since 1927. Sure, there are versions of Fritz Lang's cautionary tale about unchecked capitalism that exist on video that attempt to make up for the film's missing reels by careful mood-tinting of the black-and-white hues or added synth-rock soundtracks—but the version screening at Cinema 21 not only features entire restored subplots, but a beautiful rerecording of the original score. BOBBY "FATBOY" ROBERTS Living Room Theaters.
Countdown to Zero
I kinda stopped worrying about nuclear fallout sometime after WarGames. That's over 20 good years of resting easy! Alas, now I'm back to gnashing my teeth and nervously ducking under my desk anytime I hear a loud bang. Thanks, Countdown to Zero. COURTNEY FERGUSON Hollywood Theatre.
The biggest film thus far from the mumblecore crowd, Cyrus has extremely high expectations attached to it. Those who've been cheerleading the films of this underground genre—not to mention fans of Cyrus' cult favorites John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei, Jonah Hill, and Catherine Keener—want it to be the breakout film they've been waiting for. It is a legitimization of the style, at least, and the cast members' presences are a weighty endorsement, though the film seems to choke a bit on its good fortune. It's not a bad film, but we're familiar with stories about love triangles created by jealous, threatened mama's boys. This one just talks more. MARJORIE SKINNER Fox Tower 10, Hollywood Theatre.
Dinner for Schmucks
You gotta grade on a curve with movies like Dinner for Schmucks. Sure, it's formulaic, totally predictable, and a little strained—but it's also got an offbeat, ornery streak, some great casting (including Zach Galifianakis as a menacing IRS auditor), and a willingness to engage honestly with awkwardness. When movies like Grown Ups exist in this world, it just doesn't seem fair to go too hard on harmless fare like Dinner for Schmucks. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
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." Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
From Cheyenne to Pendleton: The Rise and Fall of the Rodeo Cowgirl
A documentary that examines "the history of women riders and their eventual expulsion from the rodeo arena." Learn valuable cowgirl and/or reverse cowgirl tips! Director in attendance. 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 Bagdad Theater, Kennedy School, Laurelhurst Theater, Mission Theater, Valley Theater.
The Girl Who Played with Fire
The second film based on Stieg Larsson's best-selling Millennium trilogy sees the return of 90-pound badass Lisbeth Salander (the titular girl with the dragon tattoo from the first book and the 2009 film adaptation), a '90s-era hacker with a fondness for piercings and black clothes ('cause that's how she feels on the inside). This installation of the rape-y, murder-y series continues in much the same vein, with an intricate plot dealing with abused young girls in a sex ring. In theory, The Girl Who Played with Fire is a thriller, but it's too listless and filled with plot points to be much of one in practice. It's well shot and acted, but it has a cold detachment as it veers into a violent world of abuse and sadism. COURTNEY FERGUSON Fox Tower 10.
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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater, Living Room Theaters.
Portuguese filmmaker João César Montiero, according to the Harvard Film Archive, is "international cinema's randiest rapscallion." Oh dear! This is his 1989 comedy. Also see short for Memories of the Yellow House. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Grindhouse Film Fest:
The final entry in the Grindhouse Film Festival's '70s Italian Crime Series, featuring "incredibly wild car chases" and, ominously, "the castration scene." Hollywood Theatre.
Above all else, Inception is a sensual experience: By visiting high-stakes dream worlds with a crew of less-than-reputable characters, Christopher Nolan gets to play with time, space, and action in a way few directors can. Inception's surreal, jarring visuals are nothing short of breathtaking; when paired with Nolan's gorgeous, visceral soundscapes, they're riveting to discover and impossible to forget. Inception isn't perfect, but it kicks the ass of everything else that's out this summer—and I can certainly think of worse things to do in the coming weeks than see it a few more times, feeling its visceral rush and hacking through its layers, again and again. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
"Yeah, but if the Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don't eat the tourists." See My, What a Busy Week! Bagdad Theater.
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 99W Twin Indoor Cinema, Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater, Lloyd Mall 8, Valley Theater.
The Kids Are All Right
Earlier this year, a movie came out that purported to examine contemporary feelings about adoption: The dour Mother and Child was oddly conservative in its insistence that every child needs its biological parents. Now, along comes a film that acts as a timely corrective to Mother and Child's moralizing: Writer/director Lisa Cholodenko's excellent The Kids Are All Right does full justice to the complexity and flexibility of the modern family. This is a film that allows its characters to be complicated, and it's quietly revolutionary in its upending of the conventions of the cinematic family. ALISON HALLETT 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 Academy Theater, Bagdad Theater, Laurelhurst Theater, Valley Theater.
Let it Rain
Agnès Jaoui's "charismatic comedy" is advertised as being "unmissable for fans of French cinema everywhere." Blaming it on the rain is strictly prohibited. Living Room Theaters.
Jan Svankmajer's creep-tastic flick from 2000. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
A "highly visual and fantastical" flick about a skater who gets to skate for Machotaildrop, "the world's greatest skateboard company." Clinton Street Theater.
Memories of the Yellow House
João César Montiero's comedy from 1995. Also see short for God's Comedy. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Nature of Existence
The director of Trekkies "interviews spiritual leaders, scholars, scientists, artists, pizza chefs, and others who have influenced, inspired, or freaked out humanity" in a search for (wait for it...) the nature of existence. Not screened for critics. Fox Tower 10.
The Other Guys
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
The Oxford Murders
A Spanish-made film, set in England, starring an American actor—and its scattered origins mirror its own scattered narrative. In 1993, hopeful American student Martin (Elijah Wood) faxes Oxford University in order to study under his intellectual crush, Professor Seldom (John Hurt). Then people start to get murdered, so Martin and Seldom use their knowledge of mathematical logic to discover the killer. The rushed and messy storytelling, faux-intellectualism, and contrived dialogue create a murder mystery you won't care about solving, but then again, there is a spaghetti-filled sex scene, so the movie isn't a total waste. ANDREW "THE INTERN" MICHAAN 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 Academy Theater.
Ramona and Beezus
The internet hath no fury like a nostalgic book lover convinced the legacy of her childhood is being crapped on. When the trailer for Ramona and Beezus hit the internet a few months ago, the response was predictably dolorous. "BEEZUS IS A SEX KITTEN AND RAMONA IS A PINT-SIZED MANIC-PIXIE DREAM GIRL," moaned Jezebel. Childhood = crapped on again. But chillax, ladies. Ramona and Beezus is a relatively sensible update of Beverly Cleary's beloved series. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
A Sundance-approved documentary about the day-to-day life of American soldiers stationed in a remote valley in Afghanistan. Not screened for critics. Fox Tower 10.
Isn't it great the Cold War is over, and we're finally friends with our former enemies, the Russians? WRONG! It's not great! Not great at all! Why? Rule #1: The Cold War is never over! Rule #2: You never, ever trust a Rooskie because the only good Rooskie is a dead Rooskie... or a Rooskie with coke. And rule #3: The only time you can ever trust a Rooskie is if she's very beautiful (say like Angelina Jolie), and pretending to be a Rooskie... right? WRONG! Didn't you read Rule #2? Wow. You really need to learn how to tell the difference between good spies (hint: they're American) vs. bad spies (hint: they're Rooskies), which is exactly why you need to see Salt. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY 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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
No other actor can strike the balance between charming and slimy as well as Michael Douglas, and in Solitary Man he finds the common ground between his two best roles: Wall Street's corrupt arbitrageur Gordon Gekko, and Wonder Boys' loveable pothead professor Grady Tripp. Here, Douglas is Ben Kalmen, a used car salesman who's made some rotten choices, losing both his chain of dealerships and his wife Nancy (Susan Sarandon). About to emerge on the far end of middle age, Ben's turned into a relentless hound dog, bedding almost every young girl he can and aimlessly bouncing between the people in his life who still put up with him, including his long-suffering daughter Susan (The Office's Jenna Fischer). Ben's a total bastard, but you kind of love him anyway, and you love watching him fall completely to pieces over the course of Solitary Man. NED LANNAMANN Laurelhurst Theater.
South of the Border
Oliver Stone's CliffsNotes image makeover for seven South American presidents. As powerful a director as Stone is, South is suspiciously tossed off, like a side project devised to make a vacation seem productive. Stone allows himself a sizable amount of screen time, alternately interviewing and palling around with the dignitaries, occasionally to condescending effect, such as when he interrupts an illuminating conversation with Bolivia's Evo Morales by suggesting the cameras film them playing soccer instead. MARJORIE SKINNER Living Room Theaters.
Step Up 3D
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
Peel Back and See
Stephen Slappe "uses synchronized projections, surround sound, objects, and space to unmask the edits of filmmaking, turning a temporal illusion into a spatial one." Whoa.
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
Like Deliverance, Winter's Bone will make urbanites never ever want to venture into the woods. Ever. Fucked-up shit happens out there, you guys. And like The Road—a book and film with which it shares a few similarities—Winter's Bone is bleak, wearying, and haunting. It'll wear you down as you watch it, and after it ends it'll clatter around in your head for days—but it'll do so in all the best ways. ERIK HENRIKSEN Fox Tower 10.