The 36th Chamber of Shaolin
This 1978 kung fu classic is one of the best action flicks ever made! Screens as part of the Northwest Film Center's "Shaolin Cinema: Hong Kong Films of the Late '70s and Early '80s" series. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Rarely does a film come along that's as truly adult as Blue Valentine, a movie driven by stunning, lived-in performances from Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as a young married couple. In converging timelines, Valentine tracks both their initial courtship and the 48-hour period where it falls apart. The effect is no less emotionally brutal than a film like Gaspar Noé's Irreversible, as each happy memory of the past sweetens the pair's love story—while simultaneously making their falling out all the more devastating. Over a swelling score by Grizzly Bear, director Derek Cianfrance sets about autopsying Gosling and Williams' history, examining each cutting word and each loving gesture as if they were organs from the same body. DAVE BOW Fox Tower 10.
Along with mega-celebrity status come new challenges as a middling, late-career actor: that of somehow transcending your pop omnipresence enough to trick an audience into believing you are an actual human being. The further away from your celebrity image you cast, the more implausible the suspension of disbelieve becomes—and the more hilarious the results. We believe it when Tom Cruise plays a megalomaniacal dickhead. We believe it when Angelina Jolie plays a soul-hungry sex monster. But please, Gwyneth Paltrow, have the decency not to ask me to believe a perpetual-stick-up-her-ass, such as yourself, is a fast-and-loose, down-and-out, alcoholic mess of a cuuun-try saaaanger. ZAC PENNINGTON Various Theaters.
A locally produced thriller. Not screened for critics. Bagdad Theater.
A 1998 documentary about Tim "Speed" Levitch, an eccentric New York City tour guide. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
Outlandishly unfunny. COURTNEY FERGUSON Various Theaters.
Enemies of the People
See review this issue. Living Room Theaters.
Forks Over Knives
Americans are meat and dairy addicts, and we pay for it dearly. Forks Over Knives, the latest political foodie documentary linking our woeful diet with our sky-high disease rates, details the work of two doctors who treat chronic diseases not with drugs or surgery, but by cutting meat, dairy, and processed foods from their patients' plates. With its sluggish pace and lack of interesting subjects, this movie isn't as engaging as is forefathers Super Size Me and Food, Inc., but at least its rather "duh" lesson about nutrition is worthwhile. SARAH MIRK Fox Tower 10.
The Green Hornet
Huh. This should've turned out better. Admittedly, it's not a fool-proof premise, but it is a promising one: Take a character from a long-forgotten '30s radio serial and a near-forgotten '60s TV series, hand him over to brilliant director Michel Gondry and a talented comedic actor like Seth Rogen, cast the bad guy from Inglourious Basterds as the bad guy, douse the thing in crazy slow-mo and trippy 3D, and... you know. Sit back. Let that shit happen. But The Green Hornet takes all of those elements and does... well, very little with them. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Gerard Depardieu stars in Claude Chabrol's 50th and final feature film, about a "police commissioner trying to balance professional instinct with family duty." Hollywood Theatre.
Akira Kurosawa hadn't made a movie for five years when Kagemusha roared into international cinemas in 1980. Produced by Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas—presumably as penance for their personal crimes against art—Kagemusha is a historical epic to beat all historical epics. The 70-year-old filmmaker's concerns had changed since the raucous samurai adventures that previously defined his career; while Kagemusha is as violent as Seven Samurai, it's far more weary of the toll such violence takes. JAMIE S. RICH Hollywood Theatre.
"Tanqueray and Tab, and keep 'em comin'." Clinton Street Theater.
A documentary that primarily focuses on Lemmy Kilmister's current day-to-day activities rather than his status as the legendary frontman for thrash progenitors Motörhead. Talking about his time with '70s space-rockers Hawkwind, Kilmister still sounds a little bitter about being kicked out of that band following a drug bust, but otherwise professes no regrets about a life that's left him diabetic and single in his mid-60s. He still tours six months out of the year and lives on a diet of Jack Daniel's, Marlboro Reds, and french fries. While he's never had to let go of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, Lemmy also shows the flipside—a solitary, aging man who never quite fit in. NED LANNAMANN Clinton Street Theater.
My Dog Tulip
J.R. Ackerley's memoir My Dog Tulip is one of the great entertaining books about dog ownership, in part because it doesn't shy away from the meat and refuse that goes along with animals. This animated version of the memoir is charming in the exact same way: Ackerley as a narrator (Christopher Plummer's voice work has a sly misanthropic twinkle) doesn't seem very interested in people, but he is immediately smitten with Tulip, his "Alsatian bitch." He pays close attention to the dog's every bodily function with great aplomb, even cheerily licking marmalade off his own fingers as he talks to us about the care and close personal contact that Tulip's anal glands require. He describes one of his dog's facial expressions during urination as "contentment" and another as businesslike—"as if writing a check." Tulip's squiggly, sketchy animation feels intimate and friendly, and a few sequences employ clever storytelling conceits to keep things interesting—a vacation town is drawn in part as a diorama of enormous postcards propped up on rocks amid the beach scenery—but it is, for the most part, almost an hour and a half of a man talking to us about his dog. The dog, we quickly learn, is nothing special—Tulip isn't well behaved or clever—but Ackerley's love for her above everything else in the world, including his sister and friends, makes the film extraordinary. PAUL CONSTANT Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
No Strings Attached
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
On the Bowery & The Perfect Team: The Making of On the Bowery
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
Becca (Nicole Kidman, convincing and even a little endearing in her grief) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart, concerned, discouraged, loving) are trying to move on after the death of their toddler, who chased the family dog into the street and was run over by teenaged Jason (Miles Teller). They're going to group couples counseling ("She's with God now. God had to take her. He needed another angel," one couple says of their daughter). They attend housewarming parties ("Oh, this is great. I really need another bathroom set"). But they still can't move on. They can't sell the house, and they especially can't fuck ("I feel like you're trying to rope me into sex!"). And then—spoiler alert!!—the healing process beings. GRANT BRISSEY Fox Tower 10.
The 1985 comedy starring Val Kilmer as a teenage genius. Oh, Val Kilmer: From '80s glory (Top Gun!) to guest starring on Numb3rs and playing "Dieter Von Cunth" in MacGruber. Laurelhurst Theater.
Media center Grand Detour presents a program of eight shorts films from local filmmakers Mario Garza, Ian Geronimo, Daniel Klockenkemper, Brian Lancaster, Liz Lewis, and Michael Roberson. Hollywood Theatre.
Somewhere's scene-by-scene similarities to Lost in Translation support the popular view that Sofia Coppola is limited by her station—a filmmaker born into Hollywood royalty, and only fit for chronicling the non-problems of the spoiled rich. But that's an unimaginative, ungenerous interpretation: With Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette, and now Somewhere, Coppola's demonstrated an exceptional knack for revealing the hollow side of celebrity, and within Somewhere's narrow scope, she offers an informed illustration of the adage that you can't buy happiness. Aside from its boilerplate ending, Somewhere is patient, sweet, and revealing—and a breakout role for Elle Fanning, who single-handedly counters an entire film's worth of ennui. ALISON HALLETT Fox Tower 10.
The Way Back
The latest from director Peter Weir (Witness, Dead Poets Society, Green Card, Fearless, The Truman Show, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World), based on a factually disputed memoir about escapees from a Siberian gulag in World War II. Not screened for critics. Century Clackamas Town Center.